Qiunong Guan, Hatem A Alnasser, Christopher YC Nguan and Caigan Du
Clusterin (CLU) is a chaperone-like protein and has been discovered more than thirty years ago; however, its biological significance is still not fully understood. This review aims to summarize the principal observations of CLU roles related to the kidney. In humans, three or more mRNA isoforms of CLU could be expressed due to different translation start sites, but only two forms of CLU protein, secreted (sCLU, isoform 2) and nuclear (nCLU, isoform 1), have been well characterized, whereas there is only sCLU form in mice. In the biopsies of renal tissue from patients, up regulated CLU expression has been found in rejecting kidney transplants or diseased kidneys, and a lower level of serum CLU is correlated with many types of kidney disease in patients. In mice, a deficiency in CLU expression specifically leads to the phenotype of age-dependent chronic glomerular injury - moderate to severe accumulation of the mesangial matrix, becomes more susceptible to ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), negatively impacts renal repair after IRI and worsens renal fibrosis after ureteral obstruction. All these observations may imply the biological significance of CLU for the maintenance of the tissue homeostasis in adult kidneys. However, how CLU protects the kidney from injury or by which extracellular and intracellular pathways mediate the cyto-protection of CLU in the kidney has not been well investigated. Understanding of the cyto-protective activities of CLU in the kidney could lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies for the prevention and/or treatment of kidney injury or diseases.