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The uroplakin plaque promotes renal structural integrity during congenital and acquired urinary tract obstruction

Jackson, AR;Li, B;Cohen, SH;Ching, CB;McHugh, KM;Becknell, B;

Urinary tract obstruction represents a common cause of kidney injury across the human life span, resulting in chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease. Yet, the extent of obstructive renal damage can be heterogeneous between individuals, implying the existence of unknown mechanisms that protect against or accelerate kidney injury. In this study, we investigated the role of urothelial remodeling in renal adaptation during congenital and acquired obstruction. In the Megabladder ( Mgb-/-) model of congenital obstruction and unilateral ureteral ligation model of acute obstruction, progressive hydronephrosis is strongly associated with dynamic reorganization of the renal urothelium, which elaborates a continuous uroplakin (Upk) plaque. This led us to postulate that the Upk plaque prevents parenchymal injury during urinary tract obstruction. To test this hypothesis, we interbred Mgb-/- and Upk1b-/- mice, which lack the critical Upk1b subunit for Upk plaque formation. Upk1b-/-; Mgb-/- mice experienced an accelerated onset of bilateral hydronephrosis with severe (>67%) parenchymal loss, leading to renal failure and mortality in adolescence. To investigate the function of the renal Upk plaque during acute obstruction, we destabilized the Upk plaque by Upk1b deletion or genetically depleted Upk+ cells following unilateral ureteral obstruction. Both of these strategies accelerated renal parenchymal loss following ureteral ligation, attesting to a conserved, stabilizing role for Upk plaque deposition in the acutely obstructed kidney. In aggregate, these complementary experiments provide the first evidence that the Upk plaque confers an essential, protective adaptation to preserve renal parenchymal integrity during congenital and acquired urinary tract obstruction.