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Disrupting circadian control of autophagy induces podocyte injury and proteinuria.

Kidney International 2024 Februrary 21
The circadian clock influences a wide range of biological process and controls numerous aspects of physiology to adapt to the daily environmental changes caused by Earth's rotation. The kidney clock plays an important role in maintaining tubular function, but its effect on podocytes remains unclear. Here, we found that podocytes expressed CLOCK proteins, and that 2666 glomerular gene transcripts (13.4%), including autophagy related genes, had 24-hour circadian rhythms. Deletion of Clock in podocytes resulted in 1666 gene transcripts with the loss of circadian rhythm including autophagy genes. Therefore, there was no decrease in their expression. Podocyte-specific Clock knockout mice at age three and eight months showed deficient autophagy, loss of podocytes and increased albuminuria. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) sequence analysis indicated autophagy related genes were targets of CLOCK in podocytes. ChIP-PCR further confirmed Clock binding to the promoter regions of Becn1 and Atg12, two autophagy related genes. Furthermore, the association of CLOCK regulated autophagy with chronic sleep fragmentation and diabetic kidney disease was analyzed. Chronic sleep fragmentation resulted in the loss of glomerular Clock rhythm, inhibition of podocyte autophagy, and proteinuria. Rhythmic oscillations of Clock also disappeared in high glucose treated podocytes and in glomeruli from diabetic mice. Finally, circadian differences in podocyte autophagy were also abolished in diabetic mice. Deletion Clock in podocytes aggravated podocyte injury and proteinuria in diabetic mice. Thus, our findings demonstrate that clock-dependent regulation of autophagy may be essential for podocyte survival. Hence. loss of circadian controlled autophagy may play an important role in podocyte injury and proteinuria.

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