Glomerular podocytes are highly specialized terminally differentiated cells that act as a filtration barrier in the kidney. Mutations in the actin-binding protein, α-actinin 4 (ACTN4), are linked to focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a chronic kidney disease characterized by proteinuria. Aberrant activation of NF-κB pathway in podocytes is implicated in glomerular diseases including proteinuria. We demonstrate here that stable knockdown of ACTN4 in podocytes significantly reduces TNFα-mediated induction of NF-κB target genes, including IL-1β and NPHS1, and activation of an NF-κB-driven reporter without interfering with p65 nuclear translocation. Overexpression of ACTN4 and an actin binding-defective variant increases the reporter activity. In contrast, an FSGS-linked ACTN4 mutant, K255E, which has increased actin binding activity and is predominantly cytoplasmic, fails to potentiate NF-κB activity. Mechanistically, IκBα blocks the association of ACTN4 and p65 in the cytosol. In response to TNFα, both NF-κB subunits p65 and p50 translocate to the nucleus, where they bind and recruit ACTN4 to their targeted promoters, IL-1β and IL-8. Taken together, our data identify ACTN4 as a novel coactivator for NF-κB transcription factors in podocytes. Importantly, this nuclear function of ACTN4 is independent of its actin binding activity in the cytoplasm.
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