Pflügers Archiv

, Volume 452, Issue 4, pp 387–395 | Cite as

Expression and regulation of αB-crystallin in the kidney in vivo and in vitro

  • Marlies Michl
  • Nengtai Ouyang
  • Maria-Luisa Fraek
  • Franz-Xaver Beck
  • Wolfgang NeuhoferEmail author
Cell and Molecular Physiology


αB-crystallin, a major component of the mammalian eye lens, is a small heat shock protein and molecular chaperone that is also abundant in the mammalian kidney. The present study aimed to characterize more closely the intrarenal expression and regulation of αB-crystallin in vivo and in vitro. In normal rat kidney, the expression of αB-crystallin mRNA and protein were both close to the detection limit in cortex, but increased steeply from the outer to the inner medulla where αB-crystallin constitutes approximately 2% of total tissue protein. Immunohistochemistry disclosed papillary collecting duct cells and thin limbs as the major sites for intrapapillary αB-crystallin immunoreactivity. In rats subjected to sucrose diuresis for 3 days, αB-crystallin mRNA expression was reduced by 27 and 46% in outer and inner medulla, respectively. In agreement with the results obtained in vivo, in Madine–Darby canine kidney cells, αB-crystallin mRNA and protein were induced significantly by elevating the medium osmolality to 500 mosm/kg H2O by the addition of NaCl and raffinose, and also by urea. The NaCl-induced increase in αB-crystallin expression was concentration-dependently blunted by SP600125, a specific JNK inhibitor. Overexpression of αB-crystallin in 293 cells resulted in increased tolerance to acute osmotic stress. These results indicate that αB-crystallin may be regulated by papillary interstitial tonicity in a JNK-dependent process. Moreover, the high abundance of αB-crystallin in the renal medulla may be important for cell survival in an environment characterized by extreme interstitial solute concentrations as present during antidiuresis.


αB-crystallin Heat shock protein Osmotic stress Molecular chaperone Renal medulla 



This study was supported by grants from the Münchner Medizinische Wochenschrift and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. We are grateful to Dr. J. Davis for helpful comments and critical reading of the manuscript. Parts of the present work are included in M. Michl’s MD thesis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marlies Michl
    • 1
  • Nengtai Ouyang
    • 1
  • Maria-Luisa Fraek
    • 1
  • Franz-Xaver Beck
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Neuhofer
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of MunichMunichGermany

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