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Macula densa cells in the distal nephron, according to the classic paradigm, are salt sensors that generate paracrine chemical signals in the juxtaglomerular apparatus to control vital kidney functions, including renal blood flow, glomerular filtration, and renin release. Renin is the rate-limiting step in the activation of the renin-angiotensin system, a key modulator of body fluid homeostasis. Here, we discuss recent advances in understanding macula densa sensing and suggest these cells, in addition to salt, also sense various chemical and metabolic signals in the tubular environment that directly trigger renin release.
By crossing mice with expression of Cre recombinase under control of the endogenous renin promoter (Sequeira Lopez ML, Pentz ES, Nomasa T, Smithies O, Gomez RA. Dev Cell 6: 719-728, 2004) with mice in which exon 1 of the Gnas gene was flanked by loxP sites (Chen M, Gavrilova O, Liu J, Xie T, Deng C, Nguyen AT, Nackers LM, Lorenzo J, Shen L, Weinstein LS. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA), we generated animals with preferential and nearly complete excision of Gsalpha in juxtaglomerular granular (JG) cells. Compared with wild-type animals, mice with conditional Gsalpha deficiency had markedly reduced basal levels of renin expression and very low plasma renin concentrations. Furthermore, the acute release responses to furosemide, hydralazine, and isoproterenol were virtually abolished. Consistent with a state of primary renin depletion, Gsalpha-deficient mice had reduced arterial blood pressure, reduced levels of aldosterone, and a low glomerular filtration rate. Renin content and renin secretion of JG cells in primary culture were drastically reduced, and the stimulatory response to the addition of PGE(2) or isoproterenol was eliminated. Unexpectedly, Gsalpha recombination was also observed in the renal medulla, and this was associated with a vasopressin-resistant concentrating defect. Our study shows that Cre recombinase under control of the renin promoter can be used for the excision of floxed targets from JG cells. We conclude that Gsalpha-mediated signal transduction is essential and nonredundant in the control of renin synthesis and release.
It is well known that nonselective, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit renal renin production. Our previous studies indicated that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI)-mediated renin increases were absent in rats treated with a cyclooxygenase (COX)-2-selective inhibitor and in COX-2 -/- mice. The current study examined further whether COX-1 is also involved in mediating ACEI-induced renin production. Because renin increases are mediated by cAMP, we also examined whether increased renin is mediated by the prostaglandin E(2) receptor EP(2) subtype, which is coupled to G(s) and increases cAMP. Therefore, we investigated if genetic deletion of COX-1 or EP(2) prevents increased ACEI-induced renin expression. Age- and gender-matched wild-type (+/+) and homozygous null mice (-/-) were administered captopril for 7 days, and plasma and renal renin levels and renal renin mRNA expression were measured. There were no significant differences in the basal level of renal renin activity from plasma or renal tissue in COX-1 +/+ and -/- mice. Captopril administration increased renin equally [plasma renin activity (PRA): +/+ 9.3 +/- 2.2 vs. 50.1 +/- 10.9; -/- 13.7 +/- 1.5 vs. 43.9 +/- 6.6 ng ANG I x ml(-1) x h(-1); renal renin concentration: +/+ 11.8 +/- 1.7 vs. 35.3 +/- 3.9; -/- 13.0 +/- 3.0 vs. 27.8 +/- 2.7 ng ANG I x mg protein(-1) x h(-1); n = 6; P < 0.05 with or without captopril]. ACEI also increased renin mRNA expression (+/+ 2.4 +/- 0.2; -/- 2.1 +/- 0.2 fold control; n = 6-10; P < 0.05). Captopril led to similar increases in EP(2) -/- compared with +/+. The COX-2 inhibitor SC-58236 blocked ACEI-induced elevation in renal renin concentration in EP(2) null mice (+/+ 24.7 +/- 1.7 vs. 9.8 +/- 0.4; -/- 21.1 +/- 3.2 vs. 9.3 +/- 0.4 ng ANG I x mg protein(-1) x h(-1); n = 5) as well as in COX-1 -/- mice (SC-58236-treated PRA: +/+ 7.3 +/- 0.6; -/- 8.0 +/- 0.9 ng ANG I x ml(-1) x h(-1); renal renin: +/+ 9.1 +/- 0.9; -/- 9.6 +/- 0.5 ng ANG I x mg protein(-1) x h(-1); n = 6-7; P < 0.05 compared with no treatment). Immunohistochemical analysis of renin expression confirmed the above results. This study provides definitive evidence that metabolites of COX-2 rather than COX-1 mediate ACEI-induced renin increases. The persistent response in EP(2) nulls suggests involvement of prostaglandin E(2) receptor subtype 4 and/or prostacyclin receptor (IP).
Cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 mRNA and immunoreactive protein localize to the macula densa and adjacent cortical thick ascending limb in renal cortex, and chronic NaCl restriction increases expression of this enzyme. These findings suggest an integral role for eicosanoids generated by macula densa-associated COX-2 in mediating renin release. As selective inhibitors of COX-2 become available, it will be important to assess their effects on the renin-angiotensin system and glomerular hemodynamics.
We have developed chimeric mice carrying 'regional' null mutation of the angiotensin type 1A (AT1A) receptor, the AT1 receptor subtype exclusively present in mouse juxtaglomerular (JG) cells. The chimeric mouse (Agtr1a -/- <--> +/+) is made up of wild-type (Agtr1a +/+) cells or cells homozygous for Agtr1a deletion (Agtr1a -/-). In the latter, the AT1A coding exon was replaced with a reporter gene, lacZ. In Agtr1a -/- <--> +/+ mice, these two clones of cells are found to be clustered and display patchy distributions in the kidney and heart. Tracking of lacZ activities in hetero- (Agtr1a +/-) and homozygous (Agtr1a -/-) deletion mutant offspring from Agtr1a -/- <--> +/+ mice revealed that the promoter activity of Agtr1a is localized in JG cells, afferent arteriolar walls, glomerular mesangial region and endothelial cells, and apical and basolateral proximal tubule membranes. The JG apparatuses of Agtr1a -/- mice are markedly enlarged with intense expression of renin mRNA and protein. In Agtr1a -/- <--> +/+ mice, these changes were proportional to the degree of chimerism. Within a given Agtr1a -/- <--> +/+ mouse, however, the degree of JG hypertrophy/hyperplasia and the expression of renin mRNA and protein were identical between Agtr1a +/+ and Agtr1a -/- cells. Thus, in the in vivo condition tested, the local interaction between angiotensin and the AT1 receptor on the JG cells has little functional contribution to the feedback regulation of JG renin synthesis.
BACKGROUND - Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEi) therapy delays the onset of renal failure in diabetic nephropathy and inhibits or delays the onset of proteinuria in several animal models.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - We examined this question using a transgenic model of chronic glomerulosclerosis caused by an excess production of growth hormone (GH) in which there is progressive glomerular scarring leading to uremia. In addition, since GH mice do not have systemic hypertension or an elevated glomerular filtration rate, we could address the question of whether ACEi or angiotensin II receptor antagonists (AII RA) had an effect on the development of glomerulosclerosis under these conditions. Since excess matrix accumulates in glomerulosclerosis because of alterations in the balance between its synthesis and degradation, we examined the effect of ACEi and AII RA on these parameters.
RESULTS - Systemic blood pressure was unaffected by ACEi treatment, but the glomerular filtration rate decreased 85%. ACEi-treated mice had increased mesangial deposition of type I collagen and decreased 105 kD complex collagenase activity. In addition, ACEi-treated GH mice had increased glomerular alpha 1 type I collagen, alpha 1 type IV collagen, and alpha-smooth muscle cell actin mRNAs. No changes were noted in beta actin, or 72 kD metalloproteinase mRNAs. The result of these changes was a net increase in sclerosis. Surprisingly, GH mice treated with ACEi or AngII RA developed marked renal arteriolar lesions.
CONCLUSIONS - In some forms of glomerulosclerosis, the lesions develop independently of angiotensin II. Pharmacological inhibition of angiotensin II, in this circumstance, may aggravate the lesions through disregulation of the levels and the balance between glomerular matrix synthesis and degradation.
We examined intrarenal localization of angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1) mRNA in kidneys of normal adult male Munich Wistar rats using the methods of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and in situ hybridization. For RT-PCR, we used a rat AT1 subtype A (AT1A)-specific oligonucleotide primer pair. To semi-quantitatively assess the expression level of AT1 mRNA among several regions of kidney, AT1 cDNA was coamplified with beta-actin cDNA. When compared to the level in the adrenal gland (expressed as 100%), the level of AT1 mRNA was markedly higher in glomeruli (273 +/- 69%), followed in intensity by the renal papilla (151 +/- 57%), renal cortex (139 +/- 19%), and renal medulla (114 +/- 35%). In situ hybridization studies, using a 479 bp nucleotide fragment from AT1A-coding exon as a probe, also revealed a glomerular preponderant pattern of AT1 mRNA localization. Thus, within the glomerulus, AT1 mRNA localized in mesangial areas, predominantly at the vascular pole. In the vascular components of the juxtaglomerular apparatus (JGA), namely the terminal portion of the afferent arteriole (that is, immunohistochemically renin-positive site) and extraglomerular mesangial cells, the latter showed AT1 mRNA localization in the non-manipulated kidney, while AT1 mRNA was undetectable in the arteriole outside the JGA. The kidneys of rats treated with an angiotensin I converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) showed extension of the AT1 mRNA localization on the afferent arteriole toward the interlobular artery.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
The kidney is a rich source of prostaglandins. These eicosanoids, formed by cyclooxygenase-dependent metabolism of arachidonic acid, are important physiologic mediators of renal glomerular hemodynamics and tubular sodium and water reabsorption. Two separate isoforms of cyclooxygenase (COX) have now been identified: constitutive COX-1, encoded by a 2.8-kb mRNA, and mitogen-activated COX-2, encoded by a 4.0-4.5-kb mRNA. COX-2 expression increases during development and inflammation, but, except for brain, constitutive expression is low. It has been generally accepted that physiologic renal production of prostaglandins is mediated by COX-1. However, in the absence of inflammation, low levels of COX-2 mRNA are also detectable in the kidney. To examine the role of COX-2 in the kidney and determine its intrarenal localization, we used a 1.3-kb cDNA probe specific for the 3' untranslated region of rat COX-2 and COX-2-specific antiserum. The COX-2-specific cDNA probe hybridized with a 4.4-kb transcript in total RNA from adult rat kidney. Immunoblots of microsomes isolated from kidney cortex and papilla indicated immunoreactive COX-2 in both locations. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry indicated that renal cortical COX-2 expression was localized to the macula densa of the juxtaglomerular apparatus and to adjacent epithelial cells of the cortical thick ascending limb of Henle. In addition, COX-2 immunoreactivity was detected in interstitial cells in the papilla. No COX-2 message or immunoreactive protein was detected in arterioles, glomeruli, or cortical or medullary collecting ducts. When animals were chronically sodium restricted, the level of COX-2 in the region of the macula densa increased threefold (from 0.86 +/- 0.08 to 2.52 +/- 0.43/mm2) and the total area of the COX-2 immunoreactive cells in cortex increased from 34 microns2/mm2 of cortex to 226 microns2/mm2 of cortex. The intrarenal distribution of COX-2 and its increased expression in response to sodium restriction suggest that in addition to its proposed role in inflammatory and growth responses, this enzyme may play an important role in the regulation of salt, volume, and blood pressure homeostasis.
Transcriptional activity of human renin gene (hREN) 5'-flanking DNA sequences in pituitary cells is highly dependent on binding of the pituitary-specific transcription factor Pit-1. Pit-1 has been implicated in cAMP regulation of a number of pituitary genes and has also been shown to interact with thyroid hormone (T3) receptors in mediating T3 responsiveness of the rat growth hormone gene. In the present study we examine the effects of forskolin and T3 on the expression of luciferase hybrid genes containing hREN 5'-flanking DNAs (hREN.luc) transiently transfected into the pituitary cell line GC. Basal activities of all hREN.luc constructs transfected into cells grown in media containing serum stripped of hormones were low. Addition of forskolin stimulated expression up to 48-fold, depending on the hREN sequences present. The hREN sequence -148 to +18 was sufficient for both maximal expression and maximal stimulation by forskolin. Mutagenesis of the Pit-1 site between -82 and -58 reduced forskolin induction 4-5-fold. In addition to the Pit-1 site, the sequence between -148 and -98 was also required for maximal activity and forskolin induction. T3 on its own had no effect on hREN promoter activity in GC cells, but suppressed the effects of forskolin. Gel mobility shift and Western blot analyses indicated that forskolin treatment had no effect on Pit-1 DNA binding or Pit-1 levels. However, T3 reduced Pit-1 levels which was reflected in lower DNA binding under the conditions employed. Taken together, these findings emphasize the importance of cAMP-dependent mechanisms in directing renin gene expression.