Synaptopodin is the founding member of a novel class of proline-rich actin-associated proteins highly expressed in telencephalic dendrites and renal podocytes. Synaptopodin-deficient (synpo–/–) mice lack the dendritic spine apparatus and display impaired activity-dependent long-term synaptic plasticity. In contrast, the ultrastructure of podocytes in synpo–/– mice is normal. Here we show that synpo–/– mice display impaired recovery from protamine sulfate–induced podocyte foot process (FP) effacement and LPS-induced nephrotic syndrome. Similarly, synpo–/– podocytes show impaired actin filament reformation in vitro. We further demonstrate that synaptopodin exists in 3 isoforms, neuronal Synpo-short (685 AA), renal Synpo-long (903 AA), and Synpo-T (181 AA). The C terminus of Synpo-long is identical to that of Synpo-T. All 3 isoforms specifically interact with α-actinin and elongate α-actinin–induced actin filaments. synpo–/– mice lack Synpo-short and Synpo-long expression but show an upregulation of Synpo-T protein expression in podocytes, though not in the brain. Gene silencing of Synpo-T abrogates stress-fiber formation in synpo–/– podocytes, demonstrating that Synpo-T serves as a backup for Synpo-long in synpo–/– podocytes. In concert, synaptopodin regulates the actin-bundling activity of α-actinin in highly dynamic cell compartments, such as podocyte FPs and the dendritic spine apparatus.
Katsuhiko Asanuma, Kwanghee Kim, Jun Oh, Laura Giardino, Sophie Chabanis, Christian Faul, Jochen Reiser, Peter Mundel