BACKGROUND. RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) is a molecular tool to analyze global transcriptional changes, deduce pathogenic mechanisms, and discover biomarkers. We performed RNA-Seq to investigate gene expression and biological pathways in urinary cells and kidney allograft biopsies during an acute rejection episode and to determine whether urinary cell gene expression patterns are enriched for biopsy transcriptional profiles. METHODS. We performed RNA-Seq of 57 urine samples collected from 53 kidney allograft recipients (patients) with biopsies classified as acute T cell–mediated rejection (TCMR; n = 22), antibody-mediated rejection (AMR; n = 8), or normal/nonspecific changes (No Rejection; n = 27). We also performed RNA-Seq of 49 kidney allograft biopsies from 49 recipients with biopsies classified as TCMR (n = 12), AMR (n = 17), or No Rejection (n = 20). We analyzed RNA-Seq data for differential gene expression, biological pathways, and gene set enrichment across diagnoses and across biospecimens. RESULTS. We identified unique and shared gene signatures associated with biological pathways during an episode of TCMR or AMR compared with No Rejection. Gene Set Enrichment Analysis demonstrated enrichment for TCMR biopsy signature and AMR biopsy signature in TCMR urine and AMR urine, irrespective of whether the biopsy and urine were from the same or different patients. Cell type enrichment analysis revealed a diverse cellular landscape with an enrichment of immune cell types in urinary cells compared with biopsies. CONCLUSIONS. RNA-Seq of urinary cells and biopsies, in addition to identifying enriched gene signatures and pathways associated with TCMR or AMR, revealed genomic changes between TCMR and AMR, as well as between allograft biopsies and urinary cells.
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