Proteomic Analysis Identifies Distinct Glomerular Extracellular Matrix in Collapsing Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis

Michael L. Merchant, et al. “Proteomic Analysis Identifies Distinct Glomerular Extracellular Matrix in Collapsing Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis.” JASN, June 2020, doi:10.1681/ASN.2019070696.


Background The mechanisms leading to extracellular matrix (ECM) replacement of areas of glomerular capillaries in histologic variants of FSGS are unknown. This study used proteomics to test the hypothesis that glomerular ECM composition in collapsing FSGS (cFSGS) differs from that of other variants.

Methods ECM proteins in glomeruli from biopsy specimens of patients with FSGS not otherwise specified (FSGS-NOS) or cFSGS and from normal controls were distinguished and quantified using mass spectrometry, verified and localized using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and confocal microscopy, and assessed for gene expression. The analysis also quantified urinary excretion of ECM proteins and peptides.

Results Of 58 ECM proteins that differed in abundance between cFSGS and FSGS-NOS, 41 were more abundant in cFSGS and 17 in FSGS-NOS. IHC showed that glomerular tuft staining for cathepsin B, cathepsin C, and annexin A3 in cFSGS was significantly greater than in other FSGS variants, in minimal change disease, or in membranous nephropathy. Annexin A3 colocalized with cathepsin B and C, claudin-1, phosphorylated ERK1/2, and CD44, but not with synaptopodin, in parietal epithelial cells (PECs) infiltrating cFSGS glomeruli. Transcripts for cathepsins B and C were increased in FSGS glomeruli compared with normal controls, and urinary excretion of both cathepsins was significantly greater in cFSGS compared with FSGS-NOS. Urinary excretion of ECM-derived peptides was enhanced in cFSGS, although in silico analysis did not identify enhanced excretion of peptides derived from cathepsin B or C.

Conclusions ECM differences suggest that glomerular sclerosis in cFSGS differs from that in other FSGS variants. Infiltration of activated PECs may disrupt ECM remodeling in cFSGS. These cells and their cathepsins may be therapeutic targets.