Interdependent Regulation of Polycystin Expression Influences Starvation-Induced Autophagy and Cell Death

Jean-Paul Decuypere, Dorien Van Giel, Peter Janssens, Ke Dong, Stefan Somlo, Yiqiang Cai, Djalila Mekahli, Rudi Vennekens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is mainly caused by deficiency of polycystin-1 (PC1) or polycystin-2 (PC2). Altered autophagy has recently been implicated in ADPKD progression, but its exact regulation by PC1 and PC2 remains unclear. We therefore investigated cell death and survival during nutritional stress in mouse inner medullary collecting duct cells (mIMCDs), either wild-type (WT) or lacking PC1 (PC1KO) or PC2 (PC2KO), and human urine-derived proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTEC) from early-stage ADPKD patients with PC1 mutations versus healthy individuals. Basal autophagy was enhanced in PC1-deficient cells. Similarly, following starvation, autophagy was enhanced and cell death reduced when PC1 was reduced. Autophagy inhibition reduced cell death resistance in PC1KO mIMCDs to the WT level, implying that PC1 promotes autophagic cell survival. Although PC2 expression was increased in PC1KO mIMCDs, PC2 knockdown did not result in reduced autophagy. PC2KO mIMCDs displayed lower basal autophagy, but more autophagy and less cell death following chronic starvation. This could be reversed by overexpression of PC1 in PC2KO. Together, these findings indicate that PC1 levels are partially coupled to PC2 expression, and determine the transition from renal cell survival to death, leading to enhanced survival of ADPKD cells during nutritional stress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13511
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), grant number KaN2018 1524519N.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Copyright 2022 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Animals
  • Autophagy/physiology
  • Cell Death/physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Epithelial Cells/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal/metabolism
  • Mice
  • Polycystic Kidney, Autosomal Dominant/metabolism
  • Starvation/metabolism
  • TRPP Cation Channels/metabolism


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