Progressive renal decline is the central manifestation of diabetic nephropathy (DN) that ultimately leads to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). Leveraging an innovative family-based approach that integrates electronic medical record data, a unique population-based genealogy resource, and next-generation sequencing, we recently identified a rare missense variant (p.R2516C, allele frequency=0.00002) in FRAS1, which encodes an extracellular matrix protein that regulates epidermal basement membrane adhesion and mediates glomerular integrity, in a family with diabetes and ESKD. While this rare missense variant is predicted to be deleterious (CADD score=32), whether this impacts FRAS1 function is unknown; here, we set out to assess the functional impact of this variant. To do so, we used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology to generate 3 novel HEK293 cell lines (2 FRAS1 knock-in cell lines (a synonymous p.H2520H control cell line and a missense p.R2516C variant cell line) and a FRAS1 knock-out cell line) and performed in vitro cell migration and cell adhesion assays. Relative to the control cell line, both the FRAS1 knock-out cell line and the missense variant cell line displayed significantly inhibited cell migration (p = 1.54X10-13 and p = 5.05X10-5, respectively). Similarly, cell adhesion was significantly inhibited in cells in which FRAS1 was knocked out and in those carrying the p.R2516C variant compared to the control cell line (p = 6.72X10-9 and p = 6.63X10-6, respectively). Together, these data suggest that the FRAS1 p.R2516C variant negatively impacts FRAS1 function and further implicates this gene as having a potential role in the progression of ESKD in individuals with diabetes.


T.Chen: None. M.B.Neeley: None. J.M.Lazaro-guevara: None. M.Pezzolesi: None. C.A.Simeone: None. A.Rodan: None. W.L.Holland: Research Support; SymbioCellTech, LLC. M.G.Pezzolesi: Research Support; Renalytix.


National Institutes of Health (R01DK128641)

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