APOL1-G1 in Nephrocytes Induces Hypertrophy and Accelerates Cell Death.

Academic Article


  • People of African ancestry carrying certain APOL1 mutant alleles are at elevated risk of developing renal diseases. However, the mechanisms underlying APOL1-associated renal diseases are unknown. Because the APOL1 gene is unique to humans and some primates, new animal models are needed to understand the function of APOL1 in vivo We generated transgenic Drosophila fly lines expressing the human APOL1 wild type allele (G0) or the predominant APOL1 risk allele (G1) in different tissues. Ubiquitous expression of APOL1 G0 or G1 in Drosophila induced lethal phenotypes, and G1 was more toxic than was G0. Selective expression of the APOL1 G0 or G1 transgene in nephrocytes, fly cells homologous to mammalian podocytes, induced increased endocytic activity and accumulation of hemolymph proteins, dextran particles, and silver nitrate. As transgenic flies with either allele aged, nephrocyte function declined, cell size increased, and nephrocytes died prematurely. Compared with G0-expressing cells, however, G1-expressing cells showed more dramatic phenotypes, resembling those observed in cultured mammalian podocytes overexpressing APOL1-G1. Expressing the G0 or G1 APOL1 transgene in nephrocytes also impaired the acidification of organelles. We conclude that expression of an APOL1 transgene initially enhances nephrocyte function, causing hypertrophy and subsequent cell death. This new Drosophila model uncovers a novel mechanism by which upregulated expression of APOL1-G1 could precipitate renal disease in humans. Furthermore, this model may facilitate the identification of APOL1-interacting molecules that could serve as new drug targets to treat APOL1-associated renal diseases.
  • Authors


  • cell biology and structure, cell survival, chronic kidney disease, genetic renal disease, Alleles, Animals, Animals, Genetically Modified, Apolipoprotein L1, Apolipoproteins, Cell Death, Cells, Cultured, Disease Models, Animal, Disease Progression, Drosophila, Gene Expression Regulation, Humans, Hypertrophy, Kidney, Kidney Diseases, Lipoproteins, HDL
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    Author List

  • Fu Y; Zhu J-Y; Richman A; Zhang Y; Xie X; Das JR; Li J; Ray PE; Han Z
  • Start Page

  • 1106
  • End Page

  • 1116
  • Volume

  • 28
  • Issue

  • 4