Twist1: A Double-Edged Sword in Kidney Diseases.
BACKGROUND: Twist1 is a basic helix-loop-helix domain containing transcription factor that regulates cell differentiation, migration, proliferation, survival, and inflammatory responses by transcriptionally regulating a wide range of downstream target genes. Its homologous protein, Twist2, shares many structural and functional similarities with Twist1. SUMMARY: Accumulating evidence from both preclinical and clinical studies suggests that Twist1 is a pivotal regulator of several forms of renal disease. Twist1 is persistently activated following renal insults, particularly in chronic kidney diseases, and contributes to the renal inflammatory responses, tubular cell transformation programs, and possibly fibroblast activation, all of which are involved in the initiation and progression of kidney diseases. KEY MESSAGE: This review will specifically focus on Twist1 and outline our understanding of its functions in kidney disorders along with the introduction of Twist2 where pertinent. The thorough knowledge of Twist1's actions in the pathogenesis of kidney diseases should facilitate the development of novel therapeutics for kidney injury.