Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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The Hole Story

Enzyme pathway called JNK affects cyst growth in polycystic kidney disease and could be a treatment target

28 March 2022

The Hole Story

Polycystic kidney disease is a leading cause of dialysis and kidney transplants. The kidney contains narrow tubules that allow it to filter blood, reabsorb key nutrients or water and send waste for disposal. For individuals with polycystic kidney disease, the cells lining these tubes grow uncontrollably leading to fluid-filled cysts that destroy kidney function. Polycystic kidney disease remains incurable, but researchers may have identified a new focus for treatment; the JNK signalling pathway. At first, it may seem like a non-starter, as blocking JNK signals caused no structural differences (second from left) in the kidney compared to normal (left). But JNK has an accomplice; PKD2 – a protein that these patients lack. Without it, JNK is activated, causing clear disruption in kidney architecture (second from right). But by reducing JNK signals, the growth of the cysts slowed (far right) suggesting that finding ways to stop JNK signalling should be explored as a treatment option.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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