Lineage Tracing and Single-Nucleus Multiomics Reveal Novel Features of Adaptive and Maladaptive Repair after Acute Kidney Injury

Feb 13, 2023

The Andrew McMahon and Ben Humphreys labs, led by Louisa Gerhardt (USC), collaborated on a recent paper in JASN.

Lineage Tracing and Single-Nucleus Multiomics Reveal Novel Features of Adaptive and Maladaptive Repair after Acute Kidney Injury Gerhardt, Louisa M.S.; Koppitch, Kari; van Gestel, Jordi; Guo, Jinjin; Cho, Sam; Wu, Haojia; Kirita, Yuhei; Humphreys, Benjamin D.; McMahon, Andrew P. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2023 Jan 13. doi: 10.1681/asn.0000000000000057. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36735940.


Background: AKI triggers a proliferative response as part of an intrinsic cellular repair program, which can lead to adaptive renal repair, restoring kidney structure and function, or maladaptive repair with the persistence of injured proximal tubule cells (PTCs) and an altered kidney structure. However, the cellular and molecular understanding of these repair programs is limited.

Methods: To examine chromatin and transcriptional responses in the same cell upon ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), we combined genetic fate mapping of cycling (Ki67+) cells labeled early after IRI with single-nucleus multiomics-profiling transcriptome and chromatin accessibility in the same nucleus-and generated a dataset of 83,315 nuclei.

Results: AKI triggered a broad cell cycle response preceded by cell type-specific and global transcriptional changes in the nephron, the collecting and vascular systems, and stromal and immune cell types. We observed a heterogeneous population of maladaptive PTCs throughout proximal tubule segments 6 months post-AKI, with a marked loss of maladaptive cells from 4 weeks to 6 months. Gene expression and chromatin accessibility profiling in the same nuclei highlighted differences between adaptive and maladaptive PTCs in the activity of cis-regulatory elements and transcription factors, accompanied by corresponding changes in target gene expression. Adaptive repair was associated with reduced expression of genes encoding transmembrane transport proteins essential to kidney function.

Conclusions: Analysis of genome organization and gene activity with single-cell resolution using lineage tracing and single-nucleus multiomics offers new insight into the regulation of renal injury repair. Weeks to months after mild-to-moderate IRI, maladaptive PTCs persist with an aberrant epigenetic landscape, and PTCs exhibit an altered transcriptional profile even following adaptive repair.

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