Podocyte injury is central to many forms of kidney disease, but transcriptional signatures reflecting podocyte injury and compensation mechanisms are challenging to analyze in vivo. Human kidney organoids derived from pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), a new model for disease and regeneration, present an opportunity to explore the transcriptional plasticity of podocytes. Here, transcriptional profiling of over 12,000 single cells from human PSC-derived kidney organoid cultures was used to identify robust and reproducible cell-lineage gene expression signatures shared with developing human kidneys based on trajectory analysis. Surprisingly, the gene expression signature characteristic of developing glomerular epithelial cells was also observed in glomerular tissue from a kidney disease cohort. This signature correlated with proteinuria and inverse eGFR, and was confirmed in an independent podocytopathy cohort. Three genes in particular were further identified as critical components of the glomerular disease signature. We conclude that cells in human PSC-derived kidney organoids reliably recapitulate the developmental transcriptional program of podocytes and other cell lineages in the human kidney, and that the early transcriptional profile seen in developing podocytes is reactivated in glomerular disease. Our findings demonstrate an innovative approach to identifying novel molecular programs involved in the pathogenesis of glomerulopathies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)