Identification of Lumican and Fibromodulin as Hub Genes Associated with Accumulation of Extracellular Matrix in Diabetic Nephropathy
Kidney & Blood Pressure Research
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) remains a major cause of end-stage renal disease. The development of novel biomarkers and early diagnosis of DN are of great clinical importance. The goal of this study was to identify hub genes with diagnostic potential for DN by weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA). Gene Expression Omnibus database was searched for microarray data including distinct types of CKD. Gene co-expression network was constructed, and modules specific for DN were identified
... N were identified by WGCNA. Gene ontology (GO) analysis was performed, and the hub genes were screened out within the selected gene modules. In addition, cross-validation was performed in an independent dataset and in samples of renal biopsies with DN and other types of glomerular diseases. Dataset GSE99339 was selected, and a total of 179 microdissected glomeruli samples were analyzed, including DN, normal control, and 7 groups of other glomerular diseases. Twenty-three modules of the total 10,947 genes were grouped by WGCNA, and a module was specifically correlated with DN (r = 0.54, p = 9e-15). GO analysis showed that module genes were mainly enriched in the accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM). LUM, ELN, FBLN1, MMP2, FBLN5, and FMOD were identified as hub genes. Cross verification showed LUM and FMOD were higher in the DN group and were negatively correlated with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). In renal biopsies, expression levels of LUM and FMOD were higher in DN than IgA nephropathy, membranous nephropathy, and normal controls. By using WGCNA approach, we identified LUM and FMOD related to ECM accumulation and were specific for DN. These 2 genes may represent potential candidate diagnostic biomarkers of DN.