The Cyst Epithelium in Polycystic Kidney Disease Patients Displays Normal Apical-Basolateral Cell Polarity

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The main characteristic of polycystic kidney disease is the development of multiple fluid-filled renal cysts. The discovery of mislocalized sodium-potassium pump (Na,K-ATPase) in the apical membrane of cyst-lining epithelia alluded to reversal of polarity as a possible explanation for the fluid secretion. The topic of apical Na,K-ATPase in cysts remains controversial. We investigated the localization of the Na,K-ATPase and assessed the apical-basolateral polarization of cyst-lining epithelia by means of immunohistochemistry in kidney tissue from six polycystic kidney disease patients undergoing nephrectomy. The Na,K-ATPase α1 subunit was conventionally situated in the basolateral membrane of all immunoreactive cysts. Proteins of the Crumbs and partitioning defective (Par) complexes were localized to the apical membrane domain in cyst epithelial cells. The apical targeting protein Syntaxin-3 also immunolocalized to the apical domain of cyst-lining epithelial cells. Proteins of the basolateral Scribble complex immunolocalized to the basolateral domain of cysts. Thus, no deviations from the typical epithelial distribution of basic cell polarity proteins were observed in the cysts from the six patients. Furthermore, we confirmed that cysts can originate from virtually any tubular segment with preserved polarity. In conclusion, we find no evidence of a reversal in apical-basolateral polarity in cyst-lining epithelia in polycystic kidney disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1904
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2024


  • Crumbs complex
  • Par complex
  • Scribble complex
  • cadherin
  • cell polarity
  • polycystic kidney disease


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