Glomerular basement membrane deposition of collagen α1(III) in Alport glomeruli by mesangial filopodia injures podocytes via aberrant signaling through DDR1 and integrin α2β1

J Pathol. 2022 May 24. doi: 10.1002/path.5969. Online ahead of print.


In Alport mice, activation of the endothelin A receptor (ETA R) in mesangial cells results in sub-endothelial invasion of glomerular capillaries by mesangial filopodia. Filopodia deposit mesangial matrix in the glomerular basement membrane (GBM), including laminin 211 which activates NF-κB, resulting in induction of inflammatory cytokines. Herein we show that collagen α1(III) is also deposited in the GBM. Collagen α1(III) localized to the mesangium in wild-type mice and was found in both the mesangium and the GBM in Alport mice. We show that collagen α1(III) activates discoidin domain receptor family, member 1 (DDR1) receptors both in vitro and in vivo. To elucidate whether collagen α1(III) might cause podocyte injury, cultured murine Alport podocytes were overlaid with recombinant collagen α1(III), or not, for 24 h and RNA was analyzed by RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). These same cells were subjected to siRNA knockdown for integrin α2 or DDR1 and the RNA was analyzed by RNA-seq. Results were validated in vivo using RNA-seq from RNA isolated from wild-type and Alport mouse glomeruli. Numerous genes associated with podocyte injury were up- or down-regulated in both Alport glomeruli and cultured podocytes treated with collagen α1(III), 18 of which have been associated previously with podocyte injury or glomerulonephritis. The data indicate α2β1 integrin/DDR1 co-receptor signaling as the dominant regulatory mechanism. This may explain earlier studies where deletion of either DDR1 or α2β1 integrin in Alport mice ameliorates renal pathology. © 2022 Boys Town National Research Hospital. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

Keywords: Alport syndrome; collagen α1(III); discoidin domain receptor 1; integrin α2β1; podocyte injury.