Branching morphogenesis in the developing kidney is governed by rules that pattern the ureteric tree

James G. Lefevre, Kieran M. Short, Timothy O. Lamberton, Odyssé Michos, Daniel Graf, Ian M. Smyth, Nicholas A. Hamilton

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Metanephric kidney development is orchestrated by the iterative branching morphogenesis of the ureteric bud. We describe an underlying patterning associated with the ramification of this structure and show that this pattern is conserved between developing kidneys, in different parts of the organ and across developmental time. This regularity is associated with a highly reproducible branching asymmetry that is consistent with locally operative growth mechanisms. We then develop a class of tip state models to represent elaboration of the ureteric tree and describe rules for ‘half-delay’ branching morphogenesis that describe almost perfectly the patterning of this structure. Spatial analysis suggests that the observed asymmetry may arise from mutual suppression of bifurcation, but not extension, between the growing ureteric tips, and demonstrates that disruption of patterning occurs in mouse mutants in which the distribution of tips on the surface of the kidney is altered. These findings demonstrate that kidney development occurs by way of a highly conserved reiterative pattern of asymmetric bifurcation that is governed by intrinsic and locally operative mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4377-4385
Number of pages9
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Branching morphogenesis
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Ureteric tree

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