Branching morphogenesis as a driver of renal development

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Branching morphogenesis is an integral developmental mechanism central to the formation of a range of organs including the kidney, lung, pancreas and mammary gland. The ramified networks of epithelial tubules it establishes are critical for the processes of secretion, excretion and exchange mediated by these tissues. In the kidney, branching serves to establish the collecting duct system that transports urine from the nephrons into the renal pelvis, ureter and finally the bladder. Generally speaking, the formation of these networks in different organs begins with the specification and differentiation of simple bud-like organ anlage, which then undergo a process of elaboration, typically by bifurcation. This process is often governed by the interaction of progenitor cells at the tips of the epithelia with neighboring mesenchymal cell populations which direct the branching process and which often themselves differentiate to form part of the adult organ. In the kidney, the tips of ureteric bud elaborate through a dynamic cell signaling relationship with overlying nephron progenitor cell populations. These cells sequentially commit to differentiation and the resulting nephrons reintegrate with the ureteric epithelium as development progresses. This review will describe recent advances in understanding the how the elaboration of the ureteric bud is patterned and consider the extent to which this process is shared with other organs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2578-2587
Number of pages10
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • branching morphogenesis
  • kidney development
  • metanephric mesenchyme
  • ureteric bud

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