SLC20A1 Is Involved in Urinary Tract and Urorectal Development

Johanna Magdalena Rieke, Rong Zhang, Doreen Braun, Öznur Yilmaz, Anna S. Japp, Filipa M. Lopes, Michael Pleschka, Alina C. Hilger, Sophia Schneider, William G. Newman, Glenda M. Beaman, Agneta Nordenskjöld, Anne Karoline Ebert, Martin Promm, Wolfgang H. Rösch, Raimund Stein, Karin Hirsch, Frank Mattias Schäfer, Eberhard Schmiedeke, Thomas M. BoemersMartin Lacher, Dietrich Kluth, Jan Hendrik Gosemann, Magnus Anderberg, Gillian Barker, Gundela Holmdahl, Göran Läckgren, David Keene, Raimondo M. Cervellione, Elisa Giorgio, Massimo Di Grazia, Wouter F.J. Feitz, Carlo L.M. Marcelis, Iris A.L.M. Van Rooij, Arend Bökenkamp, Goedele M.A. Beckers, Catherine E. Keegan, Amit Sharma, Tikam Chand Dakal, Lars Wittler, Phillip Grote, Nadine Zwink, Ekkehart Jenetzky, Alfredo Brusco, Holger Thiele, Michael Ludwig, Ulrich Schweizer, Adrian S. Woolf, Benjamin Odermatt, Heiko Reutter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Previous studies in developing Xenopus and zebrafish reported that the phosphate transporter slc20a1a is expressed in pronephric kidneys. The recent identification of SLC20A1 as a monoallelic candidate gene for cloacal exstrophy further suggests its involvement in the urinary tract and urorectal development. However, little is known of the functional role of SLC20A1 in urinary tract development. Here, we investigated this using morpholino oligonucleotide knockdown of the zebrafish ortholog slc20a1a. This caused kidney cysts and malformations of the cloaca. Moreover, in morphants we demonstrated dysfunctional voiding and hindgut opening defects mimicking imperforate anus in human cloacal exstrophy. Furthermore, we performed immunohistochemistry of an unaffected 6-week-old human embryo and detected SLC20A1 in the urinary tract and the abdominal midline, structures implicated in the pathogenesis of cloacal exstrophy. Additionally, we resequenced SLC20A1 in 690 individuals with bladder exstrophy-epispadias complex (BEEC) including 84 individuals with cloacal exstrophy. We identified two additional monoallelic de novo variants. One was identified in a case-parent trio with classic bladder exstrophy, and one additional novel de novo variant was detected in an affected mother who transmitted this variant to her affected son. To study the potential cellular impact of SLC20A1 variants, we expressed them in HEK293 cells. Here, phosphate transport was not compromised, suggesting that it is not a disease mechanism. However, there was a tendency for lower levels of cleaved caspase-3, perhaps implicating apoptosis pathways in the disease. Our results suggest SLC20A1 is involved in urinary tract and urorectal development and implicate SLC20A1 as a disease-gene for BEEC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number567
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2020

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