Agnieszka Swiatecka-Urban, MD

NephCure Established Investigator Awardee

Agnieszka Swiatecka-Urban studied the regulation of cell-surface stability and intracellular trafficking of membrane proteins in epithelial cells. One focus of her research activity has been the characterization of mechanisms and pathways that regulate the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) in order to improve treatment strategies for cystic fibrosis (CF). Swiatecka-Urban has also used her expertise to address a significant unmet need of patients with nephrotic syndrome, a severe form of kidney disease responsible for 20% of pediatric kidney failure.

Charlottesville, Virginia

University of Virginia

Lay Summary of the Project:

The membrane structure localized at the junction of podocytes, called the slit diaphragm, is a major component of the kidney’s filtration barrier and an extremely complex structure that undergoes constant change. Research has identified several elements that build this structure, but it remains largely unknown how the building blocks interconnect. Dr. Swiatecka-Urban’s research seeks to understand the mechanisms that control how the slit diaphragm-associated protein nephrin is trafficked in and out of the cell and how changes in the abundance of nephrin can control the integrity of the slit diaphragm. (The process by which a cell absorbs molecules outside the cell and brings them inside is called endocytosis.)  Understanding these mechanisms may lead to new therapeutic approaches to correct the defective nephrin expression seen in patients with FSGS and Minimal Change Disease.


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