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Research compares mouse and human kidney development

February 15, 2018

  • Three new research articles compare human and mouse kidney development to identify shared and novel features.
  • The studies provide new detailed molecular data to guide future research.
  • The studies revealed deep conservation of certain processes, but also significant differences in gene expression during kidney development, as well as in the timing, scale, organization, and molecular profile of key cell types and cell structures.
Washington, DC (February 15, 2018) -- Three new research articles compare human kidney development with a well-studied mouse model of kidney development to identify shared and novel features. The results, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), point to new avenues for research into the processes that direct cells to form functional kidney structures. In addition, the findings may help guide emerging stem cell-directed technologies to generate normal kidney structures for studying and treating human kidney disease.

The 3 research projects, all led by Andrew McMahon, PhD (Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California), looked at distinct aspects of kidney development in mice and humans, as well as the different types of cells involved. As a basis for their experiments, the researchers drew on mouse studies that have identified key regulatory mechanisms acting within and between different cell types to coordinate developmental programs. The team found deep conservation of certain processes that likely reflects similar underlying regulatory processes between mouse and man, but there were also significant differences in gene expression during kidney development, as well as in the timing, scale, organization, and molecular profile of key cell types and cell structures.

"We analyzed human kidney development, identifying features that distinguish our kidney from its well-studied mouse counterpart. The data bring an understanding of human kidney development to a new level," said Dr. McMahon. "The information will guide translational approaches to model and treat kidney disease, and engineer new kidney structures to restore kidney function."
Study co-authors differ for the 3 articles. The lead authors are Nils Lindström, PhD, Jill McMahon, Jinjin Guo, MD, Albert Kim, PhD, and Tracy Tran. Other co-authors include Qiuyu Guo, Elisabeth Rutledge, Riana Parvez, Guilherme De Sena Brandine, Gohar Saribekyan, Robert Schuler, Christopher Liao, Andrew Ransick, PhD, Ahmed Abdelhalim, Seth Ruffins, PhD, Matthew Thornton, Laurence Baskin, MD, Brendan Grubbs, MD, Andrew Smith, PhD, and Carl Kesselman, PhD.

Disclosures: The authors reported no financial disclosures.

The articles, entitled "Conserved and divergent features of human and mouse kidney organogenesis," "Conserved and divergent features of mesenchymal progenitor cell types within the cortical nephrogenic niche of the mouse and human kidney," and "Conserved and divergent molecular and anatomical features of mouse and human nephron patterning," will appear online at on February 15, 2018, doi: 10.1681/ASN.2017080887, doi: 10.1681/ASN.2017080890, and doi: 10.1681/ASN.2017091036.

The content of this article does not reflect the views or opinions of The American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s). ASN does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.

Since 1966, ASN has been leading the fight to prevent, treat, and cure kidney diseases throughout the world by educating health professionals and scientists, advancing research and innovation, communicating new knowledge, and advocating for the highest quality care for patients. ASN has nearly 18,000 members representing 112 countries. For more information, please visit or contact the society at 202-640-4660.

American Society of Nephrology

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