Gene Expression Programs of Mouse Endothelial Cells in Kidney Development and Disease

Gene Expression Programs of Mouse Endothelial Cells in Kidney Development and Disease.

Brunskill EW, Potter SS

PLoS ONE 5(8): e12034. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012034


Endothelial cells are remarkably heterogeneous in both morphology and function, and they play critical roles in the formation of multiple organ systems. In addition endothelial cell dysfunction can contribute to disease processes, including diabetic nephropathy, which is a leading cause of end stage renal disease. In this report we define the comprehensive gene expression programs of multiple types of kidney endothelial cells, and analyze the differences that distinguish them. Endothelial cells were purified from Tie2-GFP mice by cell dissociation and fluorescent activated cell sorting. Microarrays were then used to provide a global, quantitative and sensitive measure of gene expression levels. We examined renal endothelial cells from the embryo and from the adult glomerulus, cortex and medulla compartments, as well as the glomerular endothelial cells of the db/db mutant mouse, which represents a model for human diabetic nephropathy. The results identified the growth factors, receptors and transcription factors expressed by these multiple endothelial cell types. Biological processes and molecular pathways were characterized in exquisite detail. Cell type specific gene expression patterns were defined, finding novel molecular markers and providing a better understanding of compartmental distinctions. Further, analysis of enriched, evolutionarily conserved transcription factor binding sites in the promoters of co-activated genes begins to define the genetic regulatory network of renal endothelial cell formation. Finally, the gene expression differences associated with diabetic nephropathy were defined, providing a global view of both the pathogenic and protective pathways activated. These studies provide a rich resource to facilitate further investigations of endothelial cell functions in kidney development, adult compartments, and disease.

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