Implication of transcription factor FOXD2 dysfunction in syndromic congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT)

Riedhammer K. M., Nguyen T. T., KOŞUKCU C., Calzada-Wack J., Li Y., Assia Batzir N., ...More

Kidney International, vol.105, no.4, pp.844-864, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 105 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.kint.2023.11.032
  • Journal Name: Kidney International
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL
  • Page Numbers: pp.844-864
  • Keywords: CAKUT, chronic kidney disease, FOXD2, PAX2, renal hypoplasia, urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR), WNT4
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) are the predominant cause for chronic kidney disease below age 30 years. Many monogenic forms have been discovered due to comprehensive genetic testing like exome sequencing. However, disease-causing variants in known disease-associated genes only explain a proportion of cases. Here, we aim to unravel underlying molecular mechanisms of syndromic CAKUT in three unrelated multiplex families with presumed autosomal recessive inheritance. Exome sequencing in the index individuals revealed three different rare homozygous variants in FOXD2, encoding a transcription factor not previously implicated in CAKUT in humans: a frameshift in the Arabic and a missense variant each in the Turkish and the Israeli family with segregation patterns consistent with autosomal recessive inheritance. CRISPR/Cas9-derived Foxd2 knockout mice presented with a bilateral dilated kidney pelvis accompanied by atrophy of the kidney papilla and mandibular, ophthalmologic, and behavioral anomalies, recapitulating the human phenotype. In a complementary approach to study pathomechanisms of FOXD2-dysfunction–mediated developmental kidney defects, we generated CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of Foxd2 in ureteric bud–induced mouse metanephric mesenchyme cells. Transcriptomic analyses revealed enrichment of numerous differentially expressed genes important for kidney/urogenital development, including Pax2 and Wnt4 as well as gene expression changes indicating a shift toward a stromal cell identity. Histology of Foxd2 knockout mouse kidneys confirmed increased fibrosis. Further, genome-wide association studies suggest that FOXD2 could play a role for maintenance of podocyte integrity during adulthood. Thus, our studies help in genetic diagnostics of monogenic CAKUT and in understanding of monogenic and multifactorial kidney diseases.