Specific anions in tubular fluid, including uropontin (UP), the urinary form of human osteopontin (OPN), block adhesion to renal tubular cells of the most common crystal in kidney stones, calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM). In this study, monkey renal epithelial cells (BSC-1 line) in monolayer culture constitutively secreted UP into the culture medium. COM crystals added to the medium avidly bound previously secreted UP, reducing its concentration by 46% one hour later. However, the net UF content of cultures after a 24-hour exposure to COM crystals was increased by 18%. Northern blotting showed that the constitutively expressed gene encoding human OPN was maximally stimulated in BSC-1 cells after exposure to COM crystals for 12 hours. Two other calcium-containing crystals, hydroxyapatite and brushite, did not alter OPN gene expression or protein production. OPN mRNA expression was enhanced in canine renal epithelial cells (MDCK line) after exposure to COM crystals for six hours, whereas the constitutive expression of murine OPN mRNA by 3T3 fibroblasts was unchanged. In vivo this glycoprotein could defend the cell against adhesion of crystals in tubular fluid, and/or promote renal interstitial fibrosis in subjects with heavy crystalluria.
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