This article was originally published here
Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 Jul 2;9:678524. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2021.678524. eCollection 2021.
Tubulointerstitial fibrosis is a common and diagnostic hallmark of a spectrum of chronic renal disorders. While the etiology varies as to the causative nature of the underlying pathology, persistent TGF-β1 signaling drives the relentless progression of renal fibrotic disease. TGF-β1 orchestrates the multifaceted program of kidney fibrogenesis involving proximal tubular dysfunction, failed epithelial recovery or re-differentiation, capillary collapse and subsequent interstitial fibrosis eventually leading to chronic and ultimately end-stage disease. An increasing complement of non-canonical elements function as co-factors in TGF-β1 signaling. p53 is a particularly prominent transcriptional co-regulator of several TGF-β1 fibrotic-response genes by complexing with TGF-β1 receptor-activated SMADs. This cooperative p53/TGF-β1 genomic cluster includes genes involved in cellular proliferative control, survival, apoptosis, senescence, and ECM remodeling. While the molecular basis for this co-dependency remains to be determined, a subset of TGF-β1-regulated genes possess both p53- and SMAD-binding motifs. Increases in p53 expression and phosphorylation, moreover, are evident in various forms of renal injury as well as kidney allograft rejection. Targeted reduction of p53 levels by pharmacologic and genetic approaches attenuates expression of the involved genes and mitigates the fibrotic response confirming a key role for p53 in renal disorders. This review focuses on mechanisms underlying TGF-β1-induced renal fibrosis largely in the context of ureteral obstruction, which mimics the pathophysiology of pediatric unilateral ureteropelvic junction obstruction, and the role of p53 as a transcriptional regulator within the TGF-β1 repertoire of fibrosis-promoting genes.