In the present study, researchers described the presence of NeuroD transcription factor in glomeruli and to understand which targets and mechanisms NeuroD controls

The research of genes implicated in kidney glomerular function, eliciting cell fate program, is always at the forefront in nephrological studies. 

Podocytes are highly specialized cells whose primary and secondary processes and their intercellular junctions are fundamental to maintain the glomerular structure and function; defect in their number, in actin cytoskeleton rearrangement, and the related alteration of the podocyte shape are observed in response to injury.

Previous studies have pointed out the presence in podocytes of the same machinery adopted by neurons for processes formation accompanied, at the slit diaphragm level, by a multitude of receptors and signalling molecules.

Several neurological molecules have been recently the object of study not only for their involvement in the central nervous system differentiation but also for their importance in the functionality of other organs and mature phenotype, as in kidney. NeuroD, in CNS, is related to two functional roles, the early survival and the differentiation.

Researchers used immunofluorescence (IF) studies on both human and mice renal tissues and cultured podocytes to describe NeuroD distribution; then we investigated NeuroD binding to the nephrin promoter region in cultured podocytes by chromatin-immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay. 

The overexpression of NeuroD in podocytes was used to establish first its role in nephrin synthesis, evaluated by real-time quantitative (RTq) PCR and western-blot (WB) and successively to determine the recovery of cell morphology after adriamycin injury, measuring foot processes length.

The study identified NeuroD transcription factor in glomeruli, in the same cells positive for WT1 and synaptopodin, namely podocytes; subsequently, we observed a differentiation-dependent NeuroD distribution in cultured podocytes and a consistent link of NeuroD with the Nephrin promoter leading to the regulation of Nephrin translation and transcription.

Researchers data also describes NeuroD expression in the cytoplasm as phosphoprotein linked to nephrin and actinin4. Preliminary experiments seem to indicate NeuroD involved in dynamics of cell shape regulation after adriamycin injury.

Researchers propose that NeuroD possesses in podocytes a dual ability acting in the nucleus as a transcription factor and in cytoplasm stabilizing cell shape.