Podocalyxin was initially identified in glomerular podocytes to critically maintain the structural and functional integrity of the glomerular ultrafiltrative apparatus. Lately, it has emerged as a malignant marker in tumors arising from a variety of tissue origins. By immunohistochemistry, we identified that 9.6% of renal cell carcinoma patients overexpress this protein. This subset of patients had significantly shorter disease-specific and overall survivals, and, importantly, we established podocalyxin overexpression as an independent prognostic factor for latent distant metastasis with multivariate analysis. Podocalyxin down-regulation by small interfering RNA led to defective migration in model renal tubular cells, which was corrected by re-expression of podocalyxin. The activity of the small GTPase Rac1, a well-characterized modulator of cell migration, was diminished by podocalyxin knock-down. Conversely, podocalyxin overexpression in human embryonic kidney cells up-regulated Rac1 activity, which depended on a complex formed by podocalyxin, ERMbinding phosphoprotein 50, ezrin, and ARHGEF7, a Rac1 activator. Therefore, podocalyxin can serve as a biomarker to identify renal cell carcinoma patients with higher metastatic potential for more aggressive intervention at earlier clinical stages.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine