Cap mesenchyme cell swarming during kidney development is influenced by attraction, repulsion, and adhesion to the ureteric tip

Alexander N. Combes, James G. Lefevre, Sean Wilson, Nicholas A. Hamilton, Melissa H. Little

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Morphogenesis of the mammalian kidney requires reciprocal interactions between two cellular domains at the periphery of the developing organ: the tips of the epithelial ureteric tree and adjacent regions of cap mesenchyme. While the presence of the cap mesenchyme is essential for ureteric branching, how it is specifically maintained at the tips is unclear. Using ex vivo timelapse imaging we show that cells of the cap mesenchyme are highly motile. Individual cap mesenchyme cells move within and between cap domains. They also attach and detach from the ureteric tip across time. Timelapse tracks collected for >800 cells showed evidence that this movement was largely stochastic, with cell autonomous migration influenced by opposing attractive, repulsive and cell adhesion cues. The resulting swarming behaviour maintains a distinct cap mesenchyme domain while facilitating dynamic remodelling in response to underlying changes in the tip.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-306
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cap mesenchyme
  • Cell migration
  • Kidney development
  • Live imaging
  • Nephron progenitor

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