The zebrafish is an important animal system for modelling human diseases. This includes kidney dysfunction as the embryonic kidney (pronephros) shares considerable molecular and morphological homology with the human nephron. A key clinical indicator of kidney disease is proteinuria, but a high-throughput readout of proteinuria in the zebrafish is lacking. We used the Tol2 transposon system to generate a transgenic zebrafish line that uses the fabp10a liver-specific promoter to over-express a nanoluciferase molecule fused with the D3 domain of Receptor-Associated-Protein (which we term NL-D3). Using a luminometer, we quantified proteinuria in NL-D3 zebrafish larvae by measuring the intensity of luminescence in the embryo medium. In the healthy state, NL-D3 is not excreted, but when embryos were treated with chemicals that affected either proximal tubular reabsorption (cisplatin, gentamicin) or glomerular filtration (angiotensin II, Hanks Balanced Salt Solution, Bovine Serum Albumin), NL-D3 is detected in fish medium. Similarly, depletion of several gene products associated with kidney disease (nphs1, nphs2, lrp2a, ocrl, col4a3, and col4a4) also induced NL-D3 proteinuria. Treating col4a4 depleted zebrafish larvae (a model of Alport syndrome) with captopril reduced proteinuria in this system. Our findings confirm the use of the NL-D3 transgenic zebrafish as a robust and quantifiable proteinuria reporter. Given the feasibility of high-throughput assays in zebrafish, this novel reporter will permit screening for drugs that ameliorate proteinuria, thereby prioritising candidates for further translational studies.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 9 May 2022|