Letter | Published:

A mitotic transcriptional switch in polycystic kidney disease

Nature Medicine volume 16, pages 106110 (2010) | Download Citation



Hepatocyte nuclear factor-1β (HNF-1β) is a transcription factor required for the expression of several renal cystic genes and whose prenatal deletion leads to polycystic kidney disease (PKD)1. We show here that inactivation of Hnf1b from postnatal day 10 onward does not elicit cystic dilations in tubules after their proliferative morphogenetic elongation is over. Cystogenic resistance is intrinsically linked to the quiescent state of cells. In fact, when Hnf1b deficient quiescent cells are forced to proliferate by an ischemia-reperfusion injury, they give rise to cysts, owing to loss of oriented cell division. Remarkably, in quiescent cells, the transcription of crucial cystogenic target genes is maintained even in the absence of HNF-1β. However, their expression is lost as soon as cells proliferate and the chromatin of target genes acquires heterochromatin marks. These results unveil a previously undescribed aspect of gene regulation. It is well established that transcription is shut off during the mitotic condensation of chromatin2,3. We propose that transcription factors such as HNF-1β might be involved in reprogramming gene expression after transcriptional silencing is induced by mitotic chromatin condensation. Notably, HNF-1β remains associated with the mitotically condensed chromosomal barrels. This association suggests that HNF-1β is a bookmarking factor that is necessary for reopening the chromatin of target genes after mitotic silencing.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    et al. A transcriptional network in polycystic kidney disease. EMBO J. 23, 1657–1668 (2004).

  2. 2.

    & Mitotic repression of the transcriptional machinery. Trends Biochem. Sci. 22, 197–202 (1997).

  3. 3.

    , & Chromatin fine structure of the c-MYC insulator element/DNase I-hypersensitive site I is not preserved during mitosis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104, 15741–15746 (2007).

  4. 4.

    , & Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Lancet 369, 1287–1301 (2007).

  5. 5.

    , , & Cystic kidney diseases: learning from animal models. Nephrol. Dial. Transplant. 19, 2700–2702 (2004).

  6. 6.

    Murine models of polycystic kidney disease: molecular and therapeutic insights. Am. J. Physiol. Renal Physiol. 285, F1034–F1049 (2003).

  7. 7.

    et al. Disruption of intraflagellar transport in adult mice leads to obesity and slow-onset cystic kidney disease. Curr. Biol. 17, 1586–1594 (2007).

  8. 8.

    et al. Kidney-specific inactivation of the Pkd1 gene induces rapid cyst formation in developing kidneys and a slow onset of disease in adult mice. Hum. Mol. Genet. 16, 3188–3196 (2007).

  9. 9.

    , , , & A critical developmental switch defines the kinetics of kidney cyst formation after loss of Pkd1. Nat. Med. 13, 1490–1495 (2007).

  10. 10.

    et al. Acute kidney injury and aberrant planar cell polarity induce cyst formation in mice lacking renal cilia. Hum. Mol. Genet. 17, 1578–1590 (2008).

  11. 11.

    , , & Pkd1 inactivation induced in adulthood produces focal cystic disease. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 19, 2351–2363 (2008).

  12. 12.

    , , & Expression of the vHNF-1/HNF-1β homeoprotein gene during mouse organogenesis. Mech. Dev. 89, 211–213 (1999).

  13. 13.

    et al. A novel syndrome of diabetes mellitus, renal dysfunction and genital malformation associated with a partial deletion of the pseudo-POU domain of hepatocyte nuclear factor-1β. Hum. Mol. Genet. 8, 2001–2008 (1999).

  14. 14.

    et al. Renal phenotypes related to hepatocyte nuclear factor-1β (TCF2) mutations in a pediatric cohort. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 17, 497–503 (2006).

  15. 15.

    , , & Inducible gene targeting in mice. Science 269, 1427–1429 (1995).

  16. 16.

    et al. Bile system morphogenesis defects and liver dysfunction upon targeted deletion of HNF-1β. Development 129, 1829–1838 (2002).

  17. 17.

    Generalized lacZ expression with the ROSA26 Cre reporter strain. Nat. Genet. 21, 70–71 (1999).

  18. 18.

    & Genetics and pathogenesis of polycystic kidney disease. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 13, 2384–2398 (2002).

  19. 19.

    , , & Cell proliferation and morphometric changes in the rat kidney during postnatal development. Anat. Embryol. (Berl.) 205, 431–440 (2002).

  20. 20.

    & Mechanisms of renal cell repair and regeneration after acute renal failure. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 304, 905–912 (2003).

  21. 21.

    et al. Defective planar cell polarity in polycystic kidney disease. Nat. Genet. 38, 21–23 (2006).

  22. 22.

    et al. HNF-1β regulates transcription of the PKD modifier gene Kif12. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 20, 41–47 (2009).

  23. 23.

    , , , & Hepatocyte nuclear factor 1alpha gene inactivation impairs chromatin remodeling and demethylation of the phenylalanine hydroxylase gene. Mol. Cell. Biol. 17, 4948–4956 (1997).

  24. 24.

    et al. Mutations of HNF-1β inhibit epithelial morphogenesis through dysregulation of SOCS-3. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104, 20386–20391 (2007).

  25. 25.

    et al. Renal injury is a third hit promoting rapid development of adult polycystic kidney disease. Hum. Mol. Genet. 18, 2523–2531 (2009).

  26. 26.

    et al. PKD1 induces p21(waf1) and regulation of the cell cycle via direct activation of the JAK-STAT signaling pathway in a process requiring PKD2. Cell 109, 157–168 (2002).

  27. 27.

    et al. Polycystin-1 and polycystin-2 regulate the cell cycle through the helix-loop-helix inhibitor Id2. Nat. Cell Biol. 7, 1202–1212 (2005).

  28. 28.

    , , , & Long-lasting arrest of murine polycystic kidney disease with CDK inhibitor roscovitine. Nature 444, 949–952 (2006).

  29. 29.

    et al. Recovery of Na-glucose cotransport activity after renal ischemia is impaired in mice lacking vimentin. Am. J. Physiol. Renal Physiol. 287, F960–F968 (2004).

  30. 30.

    , , , & Testosterone is responsible for enhanced susceptibility of males to ischemic renal injury. J. Biol. Chem. 279, 52282–52292 (2004).

  31. 31.

    et al. Hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 inactivation results in hepatic dysfunction, phenylketonuria and renal Fanconi syndrome. Cell 84, 575–585 (1996).

  32. 32.

    , & Protocol for the fast chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) method. Nat. Protoc. 1, 179–185 (2006).

Download references


We are grateful to S. Bettiol, J.B. Weitzman and M. Yaniv for critical advice. We are grateful to R. Sandford (Cambridge Institute of Medical Research) for Pkd2-specific antibodies and to B. Viollet, (Institut Cochin, Paris) for the GFP–HNF-4α fusion construct. MxCre mice were kindly provided by K. Rajewsky (Harvard Medical School, Boston), and the ROSA26R strain was provided by P. Soriano (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle). We thank E. Perret and P. Roux from the “Plate-Forme d'Imagerie Dynamique,” Institut Pasteur, Paris) for assistance and advice. This work was supported by Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Université Paris Descartes, Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation, Société de Néphrologie, Agence Nationale Recherche, Fondation de la Recherche Médicale. F.V. was a recipient of a fellowship from Société de Néphrologie and from Fundación La Caixa.

Author information

Author notes

    • Francisco Verdeguer
    • , Evelyne Fischer
    • , Celine Callens
    • , Serge Garbay
    • , Antonia Doyen
    •  & Marco Pontoglio

    Present address: Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U567, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique UMR 8104, Université Paris-Descartes, Team 26, Institut Cochin, Paris, France.

    • Francisco Verdeguer
    • , Stephanie Le Corre
    •  & Evelyne Fischer

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. Gene Expression, Development and Disease Laboratory, Developmental Biology Department, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.

    • Francisco Verdeguer
    • , Evelyne Fischer
    • , Celine Callens
    • , Serge Garbay
    • , Antonia Doyen
    •  & Marco Pontoglio
  2. Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U845, Centre de Recherche Croissance et Signalisation, Université Paris Descartes, Hôpital Necker Enfants Malades, Paris, France.

    • Stephanie Le Corre
    •  & Fabiola Terzi
  3. Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.

    • Peter Igarashi


  1. Search for Francisco Verdeguer in:

  2. Search for Stephanie Le Corre in:

  3. Search for Evelyne Fischer in:

  4. Search for Celine Callens in:

  5. Search for Serge Garbay in:

  6. Search for Antonia Doyen in:

  7. Search for Peter Igarashi in:

  8. Search for Fabiola Terzi in:

  9. Search for Marco Pontoglio in:


F.V., experimental mouse model development, X-gal staining, immunofluorescence analysis, gene expression analysis; chromatin immunoprecipitation studies, cell culture and time-lapse video microscopy. S.L.C., renal ishemia-reperfusion injury, histological studies, immunohistochemistry, mitotic angle measurements and gene expression studies. E.F., experimental design, mitotic angle measurements and experimental mouse model development. C.C., GFP fusion proteins and cell culture studies. S.G., bioinformatic analysis of genomic HNF-1 binding sites. A.D., mouse breeding and genotyping. P.I., cell line expressing dominant-negative HNF-1β. F.T. supervised the studies and wrote the paper. M.P. supervised the project and wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marco Pontoglio.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Text and Figures

    Supplementary Figures 1–8, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Data and Supplementary Methods

Powerpoint files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Video 1

    Localization of HNF1β and HNF4α GFP fusion proteins during mitosis. Contrary to the vast majority of transcription factors (exemplified here by HNF4α) HNF1β remains associated with the chromatin during mitosis. (To play, view as slideshow.)

About this article

Publication history






Further reading