, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 991-998,
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Date: 01 Feb 2012

Expression of Fraser syndrome genes in normal and polycystic murine kidneys



Fraser syndrome (FS) features renal agenesis and cystic kidneys. Mutations of FRAS1 (Fraser syndrome 1) and FREM2 (FRAS1-related extracellular matrix protein 2) cause FS. They code for basement membrane proteins expressed in metanephric epithelia where they mediate epithelial/mesenchymal signalling. Little is known about whether and where these molecules are expressed in more mature kidneys.


In healthy and congenital polycystic kidney (cpk) mouse kidneys we sought Frem2 expression using a LacZ reporter gene and quantified Fras family transcripts. Fras1 immunohistochemistry was undertaken in cystic kidneys from cpk mice and PCK (Pkhd1 mutant) rats (models of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease) and in wild-type metanephroi rendered cystic by dexamethasone.


Nascent nephrons transiently expressed Frem2 in both tubule and podocyte epithelia. Maturing and adult collecting ducts also expressed Frem2. Frem2 was expressed in cpk cystic epithelia although Frem2 haploinsufficiency did not significantly modify cystogenesis in vivo. Fras1 transcripts were significantly upregulated, and Frem3 downregulated, in polycystic kidneys versus the non-cystic kidneys of littermates. Fras1 was immunodetected in cpk, PCK and dexamethasone-induced cyst epithelia.


These descriptive results are consistent with the hypothesis that Fras family molecules play diverse roles in kidney epithelia. In future, this should be tested by conditional deletion of FS genes in nephron segments and collecting ducts.