Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology

, Volume 468, Issue 8, pp 1433–1448 | Cite as

Bidirectional signalling between EphA2 and ephrinA1 increases tubular cell attachment, laminin secretion and modulates erythropoietin expression after renal hypoxic injury

  • Stéphane Rodriguez
  • Stefan Rudloff
  • Katrin Franziska Koenig
  • Swapna Karthik
  • David Hoogewijs
  • Uyen Huynh-Do
Molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease


Acute kidney injury (AKI) is common in hospitalized patients and has a poor prognosis, the severity of AKI being linked to progression to chronic kidney disease. This stresses the need to search for protective mechanisms during the acute phase. We investigated kidney repair after hypoxic injury using a rat model of renal artery branch ligation, which led to an oxygen gradient vertical to the corticomedullary axis. Three distinct zones were observed: tubular necrosis, infarction border zone and preserved normal tissue. EphA2 is a receptor tyrosine kinase with pivotal roles in cell architecture, migration and survival, upon juxtacrine contact with its membrane-bound ligand EphrinA1. Following hypoxia, EphA2 was up-regulated in cortical and medullary tubular cells, while EphrinA1 was up-regulated in interstitial cells adjacent to peritubular capillaries. Moreover, erythropoietin (EPO) messenger RNA (mRNA) was strongly expressed in the border zone of infarcted kidney within the first 6 h. To gain more insight into the biological impact of EphA2 and EphrinA1 up-regulation, we activated the signalling pathways in vitro using recombinant EphrinA1/Fc or EphA2/Fc proteins. Stimulation of EphA2 forward signalling in the proximal tubular cell line HK2 increased cell attachment and laminin secretion at the baso-lateral side. Conversely, activation of reverse signalling through EphrinA1 expressed by Hep3B cells promoted EPO production at both the transcriptional and protein level. Strikingly, in co-culture experiments, juxtacrine contact between EphA2 expressing MDCK and EphrinA1 expressing Hep3B was sufficient to induce a significant up-regulation of EPO mRNA production in the latter cells, even in the absence of hypoxic conditions. The synergistic effects of EphA2 and hypoxia led to a 15–20-fold increase of EPO expression. Collectively, our results suggest an important role of EphA2/EphrinA1 signalling in kidney repair after hypoxic injury through stimulation of (i) tubular cell attachment, (ii) secretion of basal membrane proteins and (iii) EPO production. These findings could thus pave the way to new therapeutic approaches.


EphA2 EphrinA1 EPO Bidirectional Kidney repair 

Supplementary material

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ESM 1(PDF 72.4 kb)
424_2016_1838_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (1.9 mb)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stéphane Rodriguez
    • 1
    • 3
  • Stefan Rudloff
    • 1
  • Katrin Franziska Koenig
    • 1
    • 4
  • Swapna Karthik
    • 1
  • David Hoogewijs
    • 2
    • 5
  • Uyen Huynh-Do
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Nephrology, Hypertension and Clinical Pharmacology, InselspitalUniversity of Bern Medical SchoolBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of PhysiologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Present address: U917 Inserm unitUniversity of RennesRennesFrance
  4. 4.Present address: Division of NephrologyUniversity Hospital of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  5. 5.Present address: Institute of PhysiologyUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany

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