BACKGROUND Proteinuria is considered an unfavorable clinical condition that accelerates renal and cardiovascular disease. However, it is not clear whether all forms of proteinuria are damaging. Mutations in CUBN cause Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome (IGS), which is characterized by intestinal malabsorption of vitamin B12 and in some cases proteinuria. CUBN encodes for cubilin, an intestinal and proximal tubular uptake receptor containing 27 CUB domains for ligand binding.METHODS We used next-generation sequencing for renal disease genes to genotype cohorts of patients with suspected hereditary renal disease and chronic proteinuria. CUBN variants were analyzed using bioinformatics, structural modeling, and epidemiological methods.RESULTS We identified 39 patients, in whom biallelic pathogenic variants in the CUBN gene were associated with chronic isolated proteinuria and early childhood onset. Since the proteinuria in these patients had a high proportion of albuminuria, glomerular diseases such as steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome or Alport syndrome were often the primary clinical diagnosis, motivating renal biopsies and the use of proteinuria-lowering treatments. However, renal function was normal in all cases. By contrast, we did not found any biallelic CUBN variants in proteinuric patients with reduced renal function or focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Unlike the more N-terminal IGS mutations, 37 of the 41 proteinuria-associated CUBN variants led to modifications or truncations after the vitamin B12–binding domain. Finally, we show that 4 C-terminal CUBN variants are associated with albuminuria and slightly increased GFR in meta-analyses of large population-based cohorts.CONCLUSION Collectively, our data suggest an important role for the C-terminal half of cubilin in renal albumin reabsorption. Albuminuria due to reduced cubilin function could be an unexpectedly common benign condition in humans that may not require any proteinuria-lowering treatment or renal biopsy.FUNDING ATIP-Avenir program, Fondation Bettencourt-Schueller (Liliane Bettencourt Chair of Developmental Biology), Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) Investissements d’avenir program (ANR-10-IAHU-01) and NEPHROFLY (ANR-14-ACHN-0013, to MS), Steno Collaborative Grant 2018 (NNF18OC0052457, to TSA and MS), Heisenberg Professorship of the German Research Foundation (KO 3598/5-1, to AK), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) KIDGEM 1140 (project 246781735, to CB), and Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMB) (01GM1515C, to CB).


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