Podocytes are differentiated post-mitotic cells that cannot replace themselves after injury. Glomerular parietal epithelial cells are proposed to be podocyte progenitors. To test whether a subset of parietal epithelial cells transdifferentiate to a podocyte fate, dual reporter PEC-rtTA|LC1|tdTomato|Nphs1-FLPo|FRT-EGFP mice, named PEC-PODO, were generated. Doxycycline administration permanently labeled parietal epithelial cells with tdTomato reporter (red), and upon doxycycline removal, the parietal epithelial cells (PECs) cannot label further. Despite the presence or absence of doxycycline, podocytes cannot label with tdTomato, but are constitutively labeled with an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) reporter (green). Only activation of the Nphs1-FLPo transgene by labeled parietal epithelial cells can generate a yellow color. At day 28 of experimental focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, podocyte density was 20% lower in 20% of glomeruli. At day 56 of experimental focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, podocyte density was 18% lower in 17% of glomeruli. TdTomato+ parietal epithelial cells were restricted to Bowman's capsule in healthy mice. However, by days 28 and 56 of experimental disease, two-thirds of tdTomato+ parietal epithelial cells within glomerular tufts were yellow in color. These cells co-expressed the podocyte markers podocin, nephrin, p57 and VEGF164, but not markers of endothelial (ERG) or mesangial (Perlecan) cells. Expansion microscopy showed primary, secondary and minor processes in tdTomato+EGFP+ cells in glomerular tufts. Thus, our studies provide strong evidence that parietal epithelial cells serve as a source of new podocytes in adult mice.
- Bowman's capsule
- enhanced green fluorescent protein
- focal segmental glomerulosclerosis