Faculty of Biological Sciences

Research Bulletin

Findings provide new therapeutic route for rare kidney disease

15th June 2010

Recent findings provide a new focus for future therapies for Dent's disease, for which there is currently no cure.

Scientists from the University of Leeds have discovered the mechanisms of a protein known to play an active part in the inherited kidney disorder, Dent's disease. The findings provide a new focus for future therapies for the disease, for which there is currently no cure. Dent's disease is an extremely rare illness caused by a genetic mutation on the X chromosome. Affecting mostly men, its main symptom is kidney stones often followed by a deterioration of kidney function and in many cases chronic kidney failure. Treatment for the disease is focused on alleviating symptoms and can involve kidney transplant. Scientists from the University's Faculty of Biological Sciences have uncovered the role of a transporter protein, called CLC-5, which is known to be faulty in many sufferers of Dent's disease. Lead researcher Dr Jonathan Lippiat says, "This is a rare genetic disease so it's impossible to know the exact number of sufferers worldwide. Dent's disease could be the underlying cause of kidney stones or kidney failure for a larger number of people and it could be that a number of Dent's sufferers go undiagnosed. The faulty gene itself has been known about for quite a while, but there's been no concrete evidence about the function it fulfils. That's why we're excited by these findings - they provide us with a whole new area to examine in the search for therapies for Dent's disease." In a research project supported by the Wellcome Trust, Dr Lippiat and his team have discovered that CLC-5 facilitates a crucial function by allowing certain ions to pass through cell membranes so they can reach the places they are needed. The kidneys filter our blood, removing waste, but minerals and hormones that we need to remain healthy need to be reabsorbed. In order for the cells in the kidney to reabsorb effectively, a process called endocytosis takes place to allow larger molecules to travel through the cell membrane. In endocytosis, a compartment is created in the cell membrane for the molecule to enter. This compartment - or endosome - needs to be acidic in order for the process to work effectively. The research findings show that CLC-5 delivers protons into endosomes, which causes acidification to occur, so when it CLC-5 is faulty, endocytosis cannot take place effectively. "If endocytosis can't take place we lose vital vitamins and hormones," says Dr Lippiat. "CLC-5 is actually part of a family of proteins, some of which are implicated in other diseases, so these findings could have important consequences when we're looking at the role of other proteins in the same family."

Recent Grants

Dave Westhead and colleagues in Experimental Haematology, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2015), £700,521

Sheena Radford, Mark Harris, Peter Stockley, Alan Berry, Alex O'Neill, Thomas Edwards, Adrian Goldman, Anastasia Zhuravleva, Wellcome Trust (Jan 2015), £443,015

Bill Kunin, EU (Jan 2015), £157,490

John Colyer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Charitable Fund (Jan 2015), £40,000

Chris Hassall, Royal Society (Dec 2014), £14,500

Ryan Seipke, Royal Society (Nov 2014), £13,700

Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2014), £749,865

Ian Hope, Marie-Anne Shaw, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £396,565

Alison Ashcroft, Peter Stckley, Sheena Radford, Nic Stonehouse, David Brockwell, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £340,937

Les Firbank, Joe Holden, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £210,302

Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Chemistry and Pathology, anatomy and Tumour Biology, Dr Hadwen Trusy (Oct 2014), £194,475

Paul Knox, EU (Oct 2014), £167,229

Martin Stacey and colleagues in Medicine & Health, Pfizer (Oct 2014), £90,453

Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Experimental Oncology, YCR (Oct 2014), £69,480

Andrew Macdonald, Jamel Mankouri, Kidney Research Fund UK (Oct 2014), £58,878

Mike McPherson and colleagues in Dentistry and Engineering, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2014), £58,437

Dave Westhead and colleagues in Experimental Haemotology, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (Sep 2014), £281,424

Emmanuel Paci and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £636,759

Andrew Peel, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £371,598

Lars Jeuken, Stephen Evans, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £333,684

Lars Jeuken, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £313,463

Michelle Peckham, Mark Harris, Rao Sivaprasadarao, Eileen Ingham, Nic Stonehouse, Nikita Gamper, Wellcome Trust (Sep 2014), £192,763

Neil Ranson, BBSRC (Aug 2014), £355,253

Stuart Egginton, BHF (Aug 2014), £271,094

Darren Tomlinson, Mike McPherson, Technology Strategy Board (Aug 2014), £98,665

Peter Henderson, Leverhulme Trust (Aug 2014), £15,222

Mike McPherson (and colleagues in the School of Chemistry), EPSRC (Jul 2014), £819,880

Peter Stockley, Neil Ranson, BBSRC (Jul 2014), £455,787

Sheena Radford, Univesity of Michigan (Jul 2014), £138,452

Ryan Seipke, British Society Antimicrobial Chemistry (Jun 2014), £11,960

John Trinick, BHF (Jun 2014), £222,614

Chris West, Leverhulme Trust (Jun 2014), £181,241

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