Basement membrane defects in CD151-associated glomerular disease

Pediatr Nephrol. 2022 Dec;37(12):3105-3115. doi: 10.1007/s00467-022-05447-y. Epub 2022 Mar 12.


Background: CD151 is a cell-surface molecule of the tetraspanin family. Its lateral interaction with laminin-binding integrin ɑ3β1 is important for podocyte adhesion to the glomerular basement membrane (GBM). Deletion of Cd151 in mice induces glomerular dysfunction, with proteinuria and associated focal glomerulosclerosis, disorganisation of GBM and tubular cystic dilation. Despite this, CD151 is not routinely screened for in patients with nephrotic-range proteinuria. We aimed to better understand the relevance of CD151 in human kidney disease.

Methods: Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was used to detect the variant in CD151. Electron and light microscopy were used to visualise the filtration barrier in the patient kidney biopsy, and immunoreactivity of patient red blood cells to anti-CD151/MER2 antibodies was performed. Further validation of the CD151 variant as disease-causing was performed in zebrafish using CRISPR-Cas9.

Results: We report a young child with nail dystrophy and persistent urinary tract infections who was incidentally found to have nephrotic-range proteinuria. Through targeted NGS, a novel, homozygous truncating variant was identified in CD151, a gene rarely reported in patients with nephrotic syndrome. Electron microscopy imaging of patient kidney tissue showed thickening of GBM and podocyte effacement. Immunofluorescence of patient kidney tissue demonstrated that CD151 was significantly reduced, and we did not detect immunoreactivity to CD151/MER2 on patient red blood cells. CRISPR-Cas9 depletion of cd151 in zebrafish caused proteinuria, which was rescued by injection of wild-type CD151 mRNA, but not CD151 mRNA containing the variant sequence.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that a novel variant in CD151 is associated with nephrotic-range proteinuria and microscopic haematuria and provides further evidence for a role of CD151 in glomerular disease. Our work highlights a functional testing pipeline for future analysis of patient genetic variants. A higher resolution version of the Graphical abstract is available as Supplementary information.

Keywords: CD151; Glomerular Basement Membrane; Kidney disease; MER2 Podocyte; Proteinuria.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Child
  • Glomerular Basement Membrane / pathology
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha3beta1
  • Kidney Diseases* / complications
  • Kidney Diseases* / genetics
  • Laminin / genetics
  • Podocytes* / pathology
  • Proteinuria / etiology
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tetraspanin 24 / genetics
  • Zebrafish


  • CD151 protein, human
  • Integrin alpha3beta1
  • Laminin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tetraspanin 24