Arginine reprogramming in ADPKD results in arginine-dependent cystogenesis

Josephine F. Trott, Vicki J. Hwang, Tatsuto Ishimaru, Kenneth J. Chmiel, Julie X. Zhou, Kyuhwan Shim, Benjamin J. Stewart, Moe R. Mahjoub, Kuang Yu Jen, Dinesh K. Barupal, Xiaogang Li, Robert H. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Research into metabolic reprogramming in cancer has become commonplace, yet this area of research has only recently come of age in nephrology. In light of the parallels between cancer and autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), the latter is currently being studied as a metabolic disease. In clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC), which is now considered a metabolic disease, we and others have shown derangements in the enzyme arginosuccinate synthase 1 (ASS1), resulting in RCC cells becoming auxotrophic for arginine and leading to a new therapeutic paradigm involving reducing extracellular arginine. Based on our earlier finding that glutamine pathways are reprogrammed in ARPKD, and given the connection between arginine and glutamine synthetic pathways via citrulline, we investigated the possibility of arginine reprogramming in ADPKD. We now show that, in a remarkable parallel to RCC, ASS1 expression is reduced in murine and human ADPKD, and arginine depletion results in a dose-dependent compensatory increase in ASS1 levels as well as decreased cystogenesis in vitro and ex vivo with minimal toxicity to normal cells. Nontargeted metabolomics analysis of mouse kidney cell lines grown in arginine-deficient versus arginine-replete media suggests arginine-dependent alterations in the glutamine and proline pathways. Thus, depletion of this conditionally essential amino acid by dietary or pharmacological means, such as with arginine-degrading enzymes, may be a novel treatment for this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F1855-F1868
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Arginine
  • Cystogenesis
  • Metabolic reprogramming


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