Endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation is required for nephrin maturation and kidney glomerular filtration function

Sei Yoshida, Xiaoqiong Wei, Gensheng Zhang, Christopher L. O'Connor, Mauricio Torres, Zhangsen Zhou, Liangguang Lin, Rajasree Menon, Xiaoxi Xu, Wenyue Zheng, Yi Xiong, Edgar Otto, Chih Hang Anthony Tang, Rui Hua, Rakesh Verma, Hiroyuki Mori, Yang Zhang, Chih Chi Andrew Hu, Ming Liu, Puneet GargJeffrey B. Hodgin, Shengyi Sun, Markus Bitzer, Ling Qi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Podocytes are key to the glomerular filtration barrier by forming a slit diaphragm between interdigitating foot processes; however, the molecular details and functional importance of protein folding and degradation in the ER remain unknown. Here, we show that the SEL1L-HRD1 protein complex of ER-associated degradation (ERAD) is required for slit diaphragm formation and glomerular filtration function. SEL1L-HRD1 ERAD is highly expressed in podocytes of both mouse and human kidneys. Mice with podocyte-specific Sel1L deficiency develop podocytopathy and severe congenital nephrotic syndrome with an impaired slit diaphragm shortly after weaning and die prematurely, with a median lifespan of approximately 3 months. We show mechanistically that nephrin, a type 1 membrane protein causally linked to congenital nephrotic syndrome, is an endogenous ERAD substrate. ERAD deficiency attenuated the maturation of nascent nephrin, leading to its retention in the ER. We also show that various autosomal-recessive nephrin disease mutants were highly unstable and broken down by SEL1L-HRD1 ERAD, which attenuated the pathogenicity of the mutants toward the WT allele. This study uncovers a critical role of SEL1L-HRD1 ERAD in glomerular filtration barrier function and provides insights into the pathogenesis associated with autosomal-recessive disease mutants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere143988
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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