Cappelli C, Tellez A, Jara C, Alarcón S, Torres A, Mendoza P, Podestá L, Flores C, Quezada C, Oyarzún C, Martín RS
Progressive diabetic nephropathy (DN) and loss of renal function correlate with kidney fibrosis. Crosstalk between TGF-β and adenosinergic signaling contributes to the phenotypic transition of cells and to renal fibrosis in DN models. We evaluated the role of TGF-β on NT5E gene expression coding for the ecto-5`-nucleotidase CD73, the limiting enzyme in extracellular adenosine production. We showed that high d-glucose may predispose HK-2 cells towards active transcription of the proximal promoter region of the NT5E gene while additional TGF-β results in full activation. The epigenetic landscape of the NT5E gene promoter was modified by concurrent TGF-β with occupancy by the p300 co-activator and the phosphorylated forms of the Smad2/3 complex and RNA Pol II. Transcriptional induction at NT5E in response to TGF-β was earlier compared to the classic responsiveness genes PAI-1 and Fn1. CD73 levels and AMPase activity were concomitantly increased by TGF-β in HK-2 cells. Interestingly, we found increased CD73 content in urinary extracellular vesicles only in diabetic patients with renal repercussions. Further, CD73-mediated AMPase activity was increased in the urinary sediment of DN patients. We conclude that the NT5E gene is a target of the profibrotic TGF-β cascade and is a traceable marker of progressive DN.