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Lysosomal dysfunction induced by changes in albumin's tertiary structure: Potential key factor in protein toxicity during diabetic nephropathy

Medina-Navarro, Rafael, Torres-Ramos, Yessica Dorin, Guzmán-Grenfell, Alberto Martin, Díaz-Flores, Margarita, León-Reyes, Guadalupe, Hicks G., Juan José
Life sciences 2019 v.230 pp. 197-207
Western blotting, albumins, apoptosis, cadherins, cathepsin B, cell viability, diabetic nephropathy, endoplasmic reticulum stress, enzyme activity, fibrosis, flow cytometry, humans, lysosomes, models, patients, proteolysis, toxicity, vimentin
Increased amounts of protein, in particular albumin within renal tubular cells (TBCs), induce the expression of inflammatory and fibrogenic mediators, which are adverse prognostic factors in tubulointerstitial fibrosis and diabetic nephropathy (DN). We sought to assess the participation of the thiol-linked tertiary structure of albumin in the mechanism of protein toxicity in a model of TBCs.Cultured human renal proximal tubular cells, HK-2, were exposed to isolated albumin from patients with and without DN (Stages 0, 1 and 4). The magnitude of change of the albumin tertiary structure, cell viability (LDH leakage), apoptosis (Annexin V), transdifferentiation and reticulum endoplasmic stress (Western blot and flow cytometry) and lysosomal enzyme activity were assessed.We found that albumin from Stage 4 patients presented >50% higher thiol-dependent changes of tertiary structure compared to Stages 0 and 1. Cells incubated with Stage 4 albumin displayed 5 times less viability, accompanied by an increased number of apoptotic cells; evidence of profibrogenic markers E-cadherin and vimentin and higher expression of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition markers α-SMA and E-cadherin and of endoplasmic reticulum stress protein GRP78 were likewise observed. Moreover, we found that cathepsin B activity in isolated lysosomes showed a significant inhibitory effect on albumin from patients in advanced stages of DN and on albumin that was intentionally modified.Overall, this study showed that thiol-dependent changes in albumin's tertiary structure interfere with the lysosomal proteolysis of renal TBCs, inducing molecular changes associated with interstitial fibrosis and DN progression.