Message in a bottle: signalling from glomerulus to renal tubule via RNA in extracellular vesicles


  • Dr Robert Hunter

    University of Edinburgh

Project summary

Kidney disease affects 10% of people worldwide. There are no treatments for the tubular cell damage that invariably occurs in people with kidney disease. Many diseases begin in the podocyte cells of the kidney but progress through injury to the tubular cells but it is not understood why this happens. I hypothesise that diseased podocytes send injurious signals to tubular cells by packaging RNA into microscopic vesicles that travel from cell to cell in the urinary stream: a biological ‘message in a bottle’.

I will attach a tag to RNA made in podocytes so I can track the RNA signals as they move between cells. I will then extract the mobile RNA to read the encoded signal. I shall study living kidneys as well as cells grown in a dish to mimic a common kidney disease caused by diabetes. 

I aim to identify RNA signals that could be subverted to therapeutic effect using new RNA-based medicines.