A novel nanoluciferase transgenic reporter to measure proteinuria in zebrafish

Richard Naylor, Emmanuel Lemarie, Anthony Jackson-Crawford, J Bernard Davenport, Aleksandr Mironov, Rachel Lennon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalKidney International
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 May 2022


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