Intrarenal Single-Cell Sequencing of Hepatitis B Virus Associated Membranous Nephropathy

Front Med (Lausanne). 2022 Jul 22;9:869284. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2022.869284. eCollection 2022.


To date, the pathogenesis of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-associated membranous nephropathy (MN) remains elusive. This study aimed to decipher the etiopathogenesis of HBV-associated MN by performing single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of kidney biopsy specimens from a patient with HBV-associated MN and two healthy individuals. We generated 4,114 intrarenal single-cell transcriptomes from the HBV-associated MN patient by scRNA-seq. Compared to healthy individuals, podocytes in the HBV-associated MN patient showed an increased expression of extracellular matrix formation-related genes, including HSPA5, CTGF, and EDIL3. Kidney endothelial cells (ECs) in the HBV-associated MN were enriched in inflammatory pathways, including NF-kappa B signaling, IL-17 signaling, TNF signaling and NOD-like receptor signaling. Gene ontology (GO) functional enrichment analysis and Gene Set Variation Analysis (GSVA) further revealed that differentially expressed genes (DEGs) of ECs from the HBV-associated MN patients were enriched in apoptotic signaling pathway, response to cytokine and leukocyte cell-cell adhesion. The up-regulated DEGs in glomerular ECs of HBV-associated MN patients were involved in biological processes such as viral gene expression, and protein targeting to endoplasmic reticulum. We further verified that the overexpressed genes in ECs from HBV-associated MN were mainly enriched in regulation of protein targeting to endoplasmic reticulum, exocytosis, viral gene expression, IL-6 and IL-1 secretion when compared with anti-phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R)-positive idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN). The receptor-ligand crosstalk analysis revealed potential interactions between endothelial cells and other cells in HBV-associated-MN. These results offer new insight into the pathogenesis of HBV-associated MN and may identify new therapeutic targets for HBV-associated MN.

Keywords: endothelial cells; hepatitis B virus (HBV); membranous nephropathy; podocytes; single-cell RNA sequencing.