Hydrogen sulfide, a gaseous signaling molecule, elongates primary cilia on kidney tubular epithelial cells by activating extracellular signal-regulated kinase

Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2021 Nov 1;25(6):593-601. doi: 10.4196/kjpp.2021.25.6.593.


Primary cilia on kidney tubular cells play crucial roles in maintaining structure and physiological function. Emerging evidence indicates that the absence of primary cilia, and their length, are associated with kidney diseases. The length of primary cilia in kidney tubular epithelial cells depends, at least in part, on oxidative stress and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK) activation. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is involved in antioxidant systems and the ERK signaling pathway. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the role of H2S in primary cilia elongation and the downstream pathway. In cultured Madin-Darby Canine Kidney cells, the length of primary cilia gradually increased up to 4 days after the cells were grown to confluent monolayers. In addition, the expression of H2S-producing enzyme increased concomitantly with primary cilia length. Treatment with NaHS, an exogenous H2S donor, accelerated the elongation of primary cilia whereas DL-propargylglycine (a cystathionine γ-lyase inhibitor) and hydroxylamine (a cystathionine-β-synthase inhibitor) delayed their elongation. NaHS treatment increased ERK activation and Sec10 and Arl13b protein expression, both of which are involved in cilia formation and elongation. Treatment with U0126, an ERK inhibitor, delayed elongation of primary cilia and blocked the effect of NaHS-mediated primary cilia elongation and Sec10 and Arl13b upregulation. Finally, we also found that H2S accelerated primary cilia elongation after ischemic kidney injury. These results indicate that H2S lengthens primary cilia through ERK activation and a consequent increase in Sec10 and Arl13b expression, suggesting that H2S and its downstream targets could be novel molecular targets for regulating primary cilia.

Keywords: Ciliogenesis; ERK; EXOC5; Hydrogen sulfide; Primary cilia; Sec10.