Mechanism of cystogenesis by Cd79a-driven, conditional mTOR activation in developing mouse nephrons

Sci Rep. 2023 Jan 10;13(1):508. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-27766-2.


Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a common genetic disorder arising from developmental and postnatal processes. Defects in primary cilia and their signaling (eg, mTOR) underlie the pathogenesis. However, how mTOR regulates tubular integrity remains unclear. The paucity of faithful models has limited our understanding of pathogenesis and, therefore, the refinement of therapeutic targets. To understand the role of mTOR in early cystogenesis, we studied an in-house mouse model, Cd79a-Cre;Tsc1ff. (Cd79a-Tsc1 KO hereafter), recapitulating human autosomal-dominant PKD histology. Cre-mediated Tsc1 depletion driven by the promoter for Cd79a, a known B-cell receptor, activated mTORC1 exclusively along the distal nephron from embryonic day 16 onward. Cysts appeared in the distal nephron at 1 weeks of age and mice developed definite PKD by 4 weeks. Cd79a-Tsc1 KO tubule cells proliferated at a rate comparable to controls after birth but continued to divide even after postnatal day 14 when tubulogenesis is normally completed. Apoptosis occurred only after 9 weeks. During postnatal days 7-11, pre-cystic Cd79a-Tsc1 KO tubule cells showed cilia elongation, aberrant cell intercalation, and mitotic division, suggesting that defective cell planar polarity (PCP) may underlie cystogenesis. mTORC1 was activated in a portion of cyst-lining cells and occasionally even when Tsc1 was not depleted, implying a non-autonomous mechanism. Our results indicate that mTORC1 overactivation in developing distal tubules impairs their postnatal narrowing by disrupting morphogenesis, which orients an actively proliferating cell toward the elongating axis. The interplay between mTOR and cilium signaling, which coordinate cell proliferation with PCP, may be essential for cystogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD79 Antigens
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Mice
  • Nephrons / metabolism
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases* / genetics
  • Signal Transduction
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases* / metabolism


  • CD79 Antigens
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases