alexa Molecular Mechanisms of Podocyte Development Revealed b
ISSN: 2168-9296

Cell & Developmental Biology
Open Access

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Review Article

Molecular Mechanisms of Podocyte Development Revealed by Zebrafish Kidney Research

Miceli R1, Kroeger PT1 and Wingert RA1,2*
1Department of Biological Sciences and Center for Zebrafish Research, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre, Dame, 100 Galvin Life Sciences, Notre Dame, USA
*Corresponding Author : Rebecca A Wingert
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Notre, Dame
100 Galvin Life Sciences, Notre Dame, USA
Phone: (574)-631-907
Fax: (574)-631-741
E-mail: [email protected]
Received April 13, 2014; Accepted June 05, 2014; Published June 07, 2014
Citation: Miceli R, Kroeger PT, Wingert RA (2014) Molecular Mechanisms of Podocyte Development Revealed by Zebrafish Kidney Research. Cell Dev Biol 3:138. doi:10.4172/2168-9296.1000138
Copyright: © 2014 Wingert RA, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Elucidating the gene regulatory networks that control kidney development can provide information about the origins of renal birth defects and kidney disease, as well as insights relevant to the design of clinical interventions for these conditions. The kidney is composed of functional units termed nephrons. Renal malfunction often arises from damage to cells known as podocytes, which are highly specialized epithelial cells that comprise the blood filter, or glomerulus, located on each nephron. Podocytes interact with the vasculature to create an elaborate sieve that collects circulatory fluid, and this filtrate enters the nephron where it is modified to produce urine and balance water homeostasis. Podocytes are an essential cellular component of the glomerular filtration barrier, helping to protect nephrons from the entry of large proteins and circulatory cells. Podocyte loss has catastrophic consequences for renal function and overall health, as podocyte destruction leads to nephron damage and pathological conditions like chronic kidney disease. Despite their importance, there is still a rather limited understanding about the molecular pathways that control podocyte formation. In recent years, however, studies of podocyte development using the zebrafish embryonic kidney, or pronephros, have been an expanding area of nephrology research. Zebrafish form an anatomically simple pronephros comprised of two nephrons that share a single blood filter, and podocyte progenitors can be easily visualized throughout the process of glomerular development. The zebrafish is an especially useful system for studying the mechanisms that are essential for formation of nephron cell types like podocytes due to the high genetic conservation between vertebrate species, including humans. In this review, we discuss how research using the zebrafish has provided new insights into the molecular regulation of the podocyte lineage during kidney ontogeny, complementing contemporary research in other animal models.

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