Kidney epithelium specific deletion of kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) causes hydronephrosis in mice

Sanjeev Noel, Lois J. Arend, Samatha Bandapalle, Sekhar P. Reddy, Hamid Rabb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Transcription factor Nrf2 protects from experimental acute kidney injury (AKI) and is promising to limit progression in human chronic kidney disease (CKD) by upregulating multiple antioxidant genes. We recently demonstrated that deletion of Keap1, the endogenous inhibitor of Nrf2, in T lymphocytes significantly protects from AKI. In this study, we investigated the effect of Keap1 deletion on Nrf2 mediated antioxidant response in the renal tubular epithelial cells. Methods: We deleted Keap1 exon 2 and 3 in the renal tubular epithelial cells by crossing Ksp-Cre mice with Keap1 floxed (Keap1 f/f) mice. Deletion of Keap1 gene in the kidney epithelial cells of Ksp-Keap1 -/- mice and its effect on Nrf2 target gene expression was performed using PCR and real-time PCR respectively. Histological evaluation was performed on H&E stained sections. Complete blood count, serum and urine analysis were performed to assess systemic effects of defective kidney development. Student's T test was used to determine statistical difference between the groups. Results: Ksp-Cre resulted in the deletion of Keap1 exon 2 and 3 and subsequent upregulation of Nrf2 target genes, Nqo1, Gclm and Gclc in the kidney epithelial cells of Ksp-Keap1 -/- mice at baseline. Renal epithelial cell specific deletion of Keap1 in Ksp-Keap1 -/- mice caused marked renal pelvic expansion and significant compression of medullary parenchyma consistent with hydronephrosis in both (3 month-old) males and females. Kidneys from 6 month-old Ksp-Keap1 -/- mice showed progressive hydronephrosis. Hematological, biochemical and urinary analysis showed significantly higher red blood cell count (p = 0.04), hemoglobin (p = 0.01), hematocrit (p = 0.02), mean cell volume (p = 0.02) and mean cell hemoglobin concentration (p = 0.003) in Ksp-Keap1 -/- mice in comparison to Keap1 f/f mice. Conclusions: These unexpected findings demonstrate that Keap1 deletion in renal tubular epithelial cells results in an abnormal kidney development consistent with hydronephrosis and reveals a novel Keap1 mediated signaling pathway in renal development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110
JournalBMC nephrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2 2016


  • Hydronephrosis
  • Keap1-Nrf2 pathway
  • Kidney development
  • Kidney epithelial cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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