Pkhd1 mice have altered renal Pkhd1 mRNA processing and hormonally sensitive liver disease

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of molecular medicine (Berlin, Germany)








ARPKD; Cyli; Hepato-renal fibrocystic disease; Mouse model; Pkhd1


Autosomal-recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD; MIM #263200) is a severe, hereditary, hepato-renal fibrocystic disorder that causes early childhood morbidity and mortality. Mutations in the polycystic kidney and hepatic disease 1 (PKHD1) gene, which encodes the protein fibrocystin/polyductin complex (FPC), cause all typical forms of ARPKD. Several mouse lines carrying diverse, genetically engineered disruptions in the orthologous Pkhd1 gene have been generated, but none expresses the classic ARPKD renal phenotype. In the current study, we characterized a spontaneous mouse Pkhd1 mutation that is transmitted as a recessive trait and causes cysticliver (cyli), similar to the hepato-biliary disease in ARPKD, but which is exacerbated by age, sex, and parity. We mapped the mutation to Chromosome 1 and determined that an insertion/deletion mutation causes a frameshift within Pkhd1 exon 48, which is predicted to result in a premature termination codon (UGA). Pkhd1 (cyli) mice exhibit a severe liver pathology but lack renal disease. Further analysis revealed that several alternatively spliced Pkhd1 mRNA, all containing exon 48, were expressed in cyli kidneys, but in lower abundance than in wild-type kidneys, suggesting that these transcripts escaped from nonsense-mediated decay (NMD). We identified an AAAAAT motif in exon 48 upstream of the cyli mutation which could enable ribosomal frameshifting, thus potentially allowing production of sufficient amounts of FPC for renoprotection. This mechanism, expressed in a species-specific fashion, may help explain the disparities in the renal phenotype observed between Pkhd1 mutant mice and patients with PKHD1-related disease. KEY MESSAGES: The Pkhd1 mouse expresses cystic liver disease, but no kidney phenotype. Pkhd1 mRNA expression is decreased in cyli liver and kidneys compared to wild-type. Ribosomal frameshifting may be responsible for Pkhd1 mRNA escape from NMD. Pkhd1 mRNA escape from NMD could contribute to the absent kidney phenotype.


Genomics and Precision Medicine