Urea induces Egr-1 and c-fos expression in renal epithelial cells

David M. Cohen, Steven R. Gullans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The membrane-permeant solute urea, in concentrations present in the mammalian renal medulla, increased expression at the mRNA level of two immediate-early gene (IEG) transcription factors, Egr-1 and c-fos, in a time- and dose-dependent fashion in confluent growth-suppressed Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells. This upregulation occurred in the absence of both cytotoxicity and an inhibition of protein synthesis, two potential nonspecific inducers of IEG expression. These findings were of interest because we have previously shown that hyperosmotic stress induced by the functionally membrane-impermeant solute NaCl increased expression of these IEG, whereas hyperosmotic stress induced by the membrane-permeant solute glycerol failed to do so. The urea-induced increase in Egr-1 mRNA expression was not secondary to enhanced message stability as determined by actinomycin D experiments and is therefore likely a consequence of urea-induced transcriptional activation. Augmented Egr-1 expression in response to urea treatment was also observed in another renal epithelial cell line, LLC-PK1, but not in other cell types examined. Therefore cells of renal epithelial origin may be uniquely capable of responding to hyperosmotic urea with increased expression of IEG transcription factors, and this increase is likely transcriptionally mediated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F593-F600
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Fluid and Electrolyte Physiology
Issue number4 33-4
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell cycle
  • Glycerol
  • Hyperosmotic stress
  • LLC-PK
  • Madin-Darby canine kidney
  • Messenger ribonucleic acid half-life
  • Osmoregulation
  • Sodium chloride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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