About the Lab

As principal investigator of the Polycystic Kidney Disease Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, Peter C. Harris, Ph.D., is investigating molecular events associated with tubule formation, with a focus on polycystic kidney disease and related conditions.

To identify proteins important in this process, Dr. Harris' research team studies inherited disorders that result in abnormal tubule formation and maintenance in the kidneys — a group of diseases called polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Polycystic kidney disease causes cyst development in the kidneys — and often elsewhere in the body — ultimately resulting in renal failure.

Dr. Harris' Polycystic Kidney Disease Lab has used genetic (positional cloning) approaches to identify genes that cause the two major forms of PKD — autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease and autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease — plus a syndromic form of the disease, Meckel-Gruber syndrome, also called Meckel syndrome.

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease is a common, late-onset kidney disease that accounts for about 5 percent of the patients who require a kidney transplant or dialysis. Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, which is far less common, typically develops in infancy and is associated with a high level of neonatal death and childhood renal failure. Meckel-Gruber syndrome is a lethal, recessive disease that also involves central nervous system abnormalities.

Research has shown a link between various forms of polycystic kidney disease and primary cilia, a sensory organelle that protrudes from the apical surface of epithelial cells. The autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease proteins may be involved in detecting fluid flow within tubules, using cilia, while those associated with autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease and Meckel-Gruber syndrome may have pivotal roles in developing and maintaining functional cilia.

About Dr. Harris

Dr. Harris is a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota. He is also associate director of the Translational Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Center at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Harris' extensive research in kidney disease is helping improve diagnostics and prognostics of polycystic kidney disease and related diseases.

Affiliations

Dr. Harris' Polycystic Kidney Disease Lab is affiliated with several Mayo Clinic research areas: