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Background

A family history of urolithiasis is associated with a more than doubling of urolithiasis risk, and a twin study estimating 56% heritability of the condition suggests a pivotal role for host genetic factors. However, previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified only six risk-related loci.

Methods

To identify novel urolithiasis-related loci in the Japanese population, we performed a large-scale GWAS of 11,130 cases and 187,639 controls, followed by a replication analysis of 2289 cases and 3817 controls. Diagnosis of urolithiasis was confirmed either by a clinician or using medical records or self-report. We also assessed the association of urolithiasis loci with 16 quantitative traits, including metabolic, kidney-related, and electrolyte traits (such as body mass index, lipid storage, eGFR, serum uric acid, and serum calcium), using up to 160,000 samples from BioBank Japan.

Results

The analysis identified 14 significant loci, including nine novel loci. Ten regions showed a significant association with at least one quantitative trait, including metabolic, kidney-related, and electrolyte traits, suggesting a common genetic basis for urolithiasis and these quantitative traits. Four novel loci were related to metabolic traits, obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, or hyperuricemia. The remaining ten loci were associated with kidney- or electrolyte-related traits; these may affect crystallization. Weighted genetic risk score analysis indicated that the highest risk group (top 20%) showed an odds ratio of 1.71 (95% confidence interval, 1.42 to 2.06) - 2.13 (95% confidence interval, 2.00 to 2.27) compared with the reference group (bottom 20%).

Conclusions

Our findings provide evidence that host genetic factors related to regulation of metabolic and crystallization pathways contribute to the development of urolithiasis.

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Background

Arginine-vasopressin (AVP) binding to vasopressin V2 receptors promotes redistribution of the water channel aquaporin-2 (AQP2) from intracellular vesicles into the plasma membrane of renal collecting duct principal cells. This pathway fine-tunes renal water reabsorption and urinary concentration, and its perturbation is associated with diabetes insipidus. Previously, we identified the antimycotic drug fluconazole as a potential modulator of AQP2 localization.

Methods

We assessed the influence of fluconazole on AQP2 localization in vitro and in vivo as well as the drug's effects on AQP2 phosphorylation and RhoA (a small GTPase, which under resting conditions, maintains F-actin to block AQP2-bearing vesicles from reaching the plasma membrane). We also tested fluconazole's effects on water flow across epithelia of isolated mouse collecting ducts and on urine output in mice treated with tolvaptan, a VR2 blocker that causes a nephrogenic diabetes insipidus–like excessive loss of hypotonic urine.

Results

Fluconazole increased plasma membrane localization of AQP2 in principal cells independent of AVP. It also led to an increased AQP2 abundance associated with alterations in phosphorylation status and ubiquitination as well as inhibition of RhoA. In isolated mouse collecting ducts, fluconazole increased transepithelial water reabsorption. In mice, fluconazole increased collecting duct AQP2 plasma membrane localization and reduced urinary output. Fluconazole also reduced urinary output in tolvaptan-treated mice.

Conclusions

Fluconazole promotes collecting duct AQP2 plasma membrane localization in the absence of AVP. Therefore, it might have utility in treating forms of diabetes insipidus (e.g., X-linked nephrogenic diabetes insipidus) in which the kidney responds inappropriately to AVP.

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Background

About 3%–5% of adults with membranous nephropathy have autoantibodies directed against thrombospondin type 1 domain–containing 7A (THSD7A), a podocyte-expressed transmembrane protein. However, the temporal and spatial expression of THSD7A and its biologic function for podocytes are unknown, information that is needed to understand the effects of THSD7A autoantibodies in this disease.

Methods

Using a variety of microscopic techniques, we analyzed THSD7A localization in postnatal, adult, and autoantibody-injected mice as well as in human podocytes. We also analyzed THSD7A function in human podocytes using confocal microscopy; Western blotting; and adhesion and migration assays.

Results

We found that THSD7A expression begins on glomerular vascularization with slit diaphragm formation in development. THSD7A localizes to the basal aspect of foot processes, closely following the meanders of the slit diaphragm in human and mice. Autoantibodies binding to THSD7A localize to the slit diaphragm. In human podocytes, THSD7A expression is accentuated at filopodia and thin arborized protrusions, an expression pattern associated with decreased membrane activity of cytoskeletal regulators. We also found that, phenotypically, THSD7A expression in human podocytes is associated not only with increases in cell size, enhanced adhesion, and reduced detachment from collagen type IV–coated plates but also, with decreased ability to migrate.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that THSD7A functions as a foot process protein involved in the stabilization of the slit diaphragm of mature podocytes and that autoantibodies to THSD7A, on the basis of their localization, might structurally and functionally alter the slit diaphragm’s permeability to protein.

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Background

The stimulatory G-protein α-subunit encoded by GNAS exons 1–13 (GNAS-Gsα) mediates signal transduction of multiple G protein–coupled receptors, including arginine vasopressin receptor 2 (AVPR2). Various germline-derived loss-of-function GNAS-Gsα variants of maternal and paternal origin have been found in pseudohypoparathyroidism type Ia and pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism, respectively. Specific somatic gain-of-function GNAS-Gsα variants have been detected in McCune–Albright syndrome and may result in phosphate wasting. However, no germline-derived gain-of-function variant has been identified, implying that such a variant causes embryonic lethality.

Methods

We performed whole-exome sequencing in two families with dominantly inherited nephrogenic syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis (NSIAD) as a salient phenotype after excluding a gain-of-function variant of AVPR2 and functional studies for identified variants.

Results

Whole-exome sequencing revealed two GNAS-Gsα candidate variants for NSIAD: GNAS-Gsα p.(F68_G70del) in one family and GNAS-Gsα p.(M255V) in one family. Both variants were absent from public and in-house databases. Of genes with rare variants, GNAS-Gsα alone was involved in AVPR2 signaling and shared by the families. Protein structural analyses revealed a gain-of-function–compatible conformational property for p.M255V-Gsα, although such assessment was not possible for p.F68_G70del-Gsα. Both variants had gain-of-function effects that were significantly milder than those of McCune–Albright syndrome–specific somatic Gsα variants. Model mice for p.F68_G70del-Gsα showed normal survivability and NSIAD-compatible phenotype, whereas those for p.M255V-Gsα exhibited severe failure to thrive.

Conclusions

This study shows that germline-derived gain-of-function rare variants of GNAS-Gsα exist and cause NSIAD as a novel Gsα-mediated genetic disease. It is likely that AVPR2 signaling is most sensitive to GNAS-Gsα’s gain-of-function effects.

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