Podocytes are terminally differentiated and highly specialized glomerular cells, which have an essential role as a filtration barrier against proteinuria. Histone methylation has been shown to influence cell development, but its role in podocyte differentiation is less understood. In this study, we first examined the expression pattern of histone demethylase KDM6B at different times of cultured human podocytes in vitro. We found that the expression of KDM6B and podocyte differentiation markers WT1 and Nephrin are increased in the podocyte differentiation process. In cultured podocytes, KDM6B knockdown with siRNA impaired podocyte differentiation and led to expression down-regulation of WT1 and Nephrin. The treatment of podocytes with GSK-J4, a specific KDM6B inhibitor, can also obtain similar results. Overexpression of WT1 can rescue differentiated phenotype impaired by disruption of KDM6B. ChIP (chromatin immunoprecipitation) assay further indicated that KDM6B can bind the promoter region of WT1 and reduce the histone H3K27 methylation. Podocytes in glomeruli from nephrotic patients exhibited increased KDM6B contents and reduced H3K27me3 levels. These data suggest a role for KDM6B as a regulator of podocyte differentiation, which is important for the understanding of podocyte function in kidney development and related diseases.

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