Han: SPRD Cy is a spontaneous rat model of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) caused by a missense mutation in Pkdr1. Cystogenesis in this model is not clearly understood. In the current study, we performed global gene expression profiling in early-stage PKD cyst development in Cy/Cy kidneys and normal (+/+) kidneys at 3 and 7 days of postnatal age. Expression profiles were determined by microarray analysis, followed by validation with real-time RT-PCR. Genes were selected with over 1.5-fold expression changes compared with age-matched +/+ kidneys for canonical pathway analysis. We found nine pathways in common between 3- and 7-day Cy/Cy kidneys. Three significantly changed pathways were designated "Vitamin D Receptor (VDR)/Retinoid X Receptor (RXR) Activation," "LPS/IL-1-Mediated Inhibition of RXR Function," and "Liver X Receptor (LXR)/RXR Activation." These results suggest that RXR-mediated signaling is significantly altered in developing kidneys with mutated Pkdr1. In gene ontology analysis, the functions of these RXR-related genes were found to be involved in regulating cell proliferation and organ morphogenesis. With real-time RT-PCR analysis, the upregulation of Ptx2, Alox15b, OSP, and PCNA, major markers of cell proliferation associated with the RXR pathway, were confirmed in 3- and 7-day Cy/Cy kidneys compared with 3-day +/+ kidneys. The increased RXR protein was observed in both the nucleus and cytoplasm of cystic epithelial cells in early-stage Cy/Cy kidneys, and the RXR-positive cells were strongly positive for PCNA staining. Taken together, cell proliferation and organ morphogenesis signals transduced by RXR-mediated pathways may have important roles for cystogenesis in early-stage PKD in this Pkdr1-mutated Cy rat.
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