Proteomics of Plasma and Plasma-Treated Podocytes: Application to Focal and Segmental Glomerulosclerosis

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jul 28;24(15):12124. doi: 10.3390/ijms241512124.


Focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a severe form of idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS), a glomerulopathy of presumably immune origin that is attributed to extrarenal pathogenic circulating factors. The recurrence of FSGS (rFSGS) after transplant occurs in 30% to 50% of cases. The direct analysis of patient plasma proteome has scarcely been addressed to date, mainly due to the methodological difficulties associated with plasma complexity and dynamic range. In this study, first, we compared different methods of plasma preparation, second, we compared the plasma proteomes of rFSGS and controls using two preparation methods, and third, we analyzed the early proximal signaling events in podocytes subjected to patient plasma, through a combination of phosphoproteomics and lipid-raft proteomics (raftomics). By combining immunodepletion and high pH fractionation, we performed a differential proteomic analysis of soluble plasma proteins and of extracellular vesicles (EV) obtained from healthy controls, non-INS patient controls, and rFSGS patients (n = 4). In both the soluble- and the EV-protein sets from the rFSGS patients, we found a statistically significant increase in a cluster of proteins involved in neutrophil degranulation. A group of lipid-binding proteins, generally associated with lipoproteins, was found to be decreased in the soluble set from the rFSGS patients. In addition, three amino acid transporters involved in mTORC1 activation were found to be significantly increased in the EV from the rFSGS. Next, we incubated human podocytes for 30 min with 10% plasma from both groups of patients. The phosphoproteomics and raftomics of the podocytes revealed profound differences in the proteins involved in the mTOR pathway, in autophagy, and in cytoskeleton organization. We analyzed the correlation between the abundance of plasma and plasma-regulated podocyte proteins. The observed changes highlight some of the mechanisms involved in FSGS recurrence and could be used as specific early markers of circulating-factor activity in podocytes.

Keywords: extracellular vesicles; immunodepletion; lipid rafts; phosphoproteomics; podocytopathy; raftomics.