Background. Vascular permeability factor/vascular endothelial growth factor (VPF/VEGF-A) is expressed constitutively in the adult glomerular podocytes at high levels; however, the regulation of its production is unclear. Recent data from podocyte-specific knockout mice suggest that VPF/VEGF-A is critical for the proper maintenance of glomerular filtration barrier and the glomerular endothelial fenestrae. We hypothesized that the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) matrix-podocyte interaction may play a role in the constitutive expression of VPF/VEGF-A in the adult glomerulus. Methods. VPF/VEGF-A mRNA levels in a human podocyte cell line grown in the presence of various extracellular matrices were quantitated by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) experiments. VPF/VEGF-A protein levels in the culture supernatant from the same conditions were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Promoter activity of VPF/VEGF-A gene in these cells was performed by transfecting full length (2.6 kb) VPF/VEGF-A promoter, which is fused with luciferase reporter gene. Immunoprecipitation and Western blot experiments were carried out in order to detect the association of hypoxia-inducible factor-α (HIF-α) and p300 in podocyte cells. Results. In this study, we provide preliminary evidence that signaling through the extracellular matrix proteins and, in particular, laminin and its receptor α3β1 integrin may regulate VPF/VEGF-A production in cultured podocytes in vitro. We also present data that increased activity of the transcription factor HIF-αs in podocyte is not related to hypoxia and may lead to up-regulation of VPF/VEGF-A transcription. The classical type protein kinase C (PKC) may be a potential intermediate signaling molecule in this event. Conclusion. These data suggest a novel nonhypoxic regulation of VPF/VEGF-A production in the glomerulus of the kidney during physiologic states. These observations may form the basis of more elaborate studies that will finally provide the detailed signaling pathway for VPFNEGF-A synthesis in podocytes and will help our understanding of the pathogenesis of various VPF/VEGF-A-related diseases in the glomerulus of the kidney.
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