Ectopic expression of cadherin 8 is sufficient to cause cyst formation in a novel 3D collagen matrix renal tubule culture.
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While a variety of genetic mutations have been shown to be associated with renal cyst formation, mechanisms of renal cyst formation are largely unknown. In prior communications we described alterations in E-cadherin assembly in cultured cystic epithelial cells (Charron AJ, Nakamura S, Bacallao R, Wandinger-Ness A. J Cell Biol 149: 111-124, 2000). Using the same cell line we assayed cadherin expression by RT-PCR using primer pairs that anneal to highly conserved sequences of cadherin genes but flank informative regions of cadherins. Using this approach we found that autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) cells express cadherin 8, a neuronal cadherin with limited expression in the kidney. Immunohistochemistry confirmed cadherin 8 expression in cystic epithelia. To test the functional significance of cadherin 8 expression in renal epithelial cells, we adapted a three-dimensional collagen culture method in which HK-2 cells form tubule structures and microinjected adenovirus into the matrix space surrounding tubule structures. Adenovirus expressing cadherin 8 under the control of a tet promoter caused cyst structures to grow out of the tubules when coinjected with adenovirus expressing a tet transactivator. Microinjection of single adenovirus expressing either tet transactivator or cadherin 8 failed to cause cyst formation. When doxycycline was added to the culture, following coinjection of adenovirus, there was a dose-response reduction in cadherin 8 expression and cyst formation. Similarly, HK-2 cells transfected with Flag-tagged cadherin 8 form cysts in addition to tubular structures. HK-2 cells transfected with Flag-tagged N-cadherin do not form cysts. These data suggest that ectopic expression of cadherin 8 in renal epithelial cells is sufficient to cause the morphogenic pattern of cyst formation.