Author(s): Gerlach GF, Wingert RA
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Abstract Vertebrates form a progressive series of up to three kidney organs during development-the pronephros, mesonephros, and metanephros. Each kidney derives from the intermediate mesoderm and is comprised of conserved excretory units called nephrons. The zebrafish is a powerful model for vertebrate developmental genetics, and recent studies have illustrated that zebrafish and mammals share numerous similarities in nephron composition and physiology. The zebrafish embryo forms an architecturally simple pronephros that has two nephrons, and these eventually become a scaffold onto which a mesonephros of several hundred nephrons is constructed during larval stages. In adult zebrafish, the mesonephros exhibits ongoing nephrogenesis, generating new nephrons from a local pool of renal progenitors during periods of growth or following kidney injury. The characteristics of the zebrafish pronephros and mesonephros make them genetically tractable kidney systems in which to study the functions of renal genes and address outstanding questions about the mechanisms of nephrogenesis. Here, we provide an overview of the formation and composition of these zebrafish kidney organs, and discuss how various zebrafish mutants, gene knockdowns, and transgenic models have created frameworks in which to further delineate nephrogenesis pathways. Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
This article was published in Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol
and referenced in Cell & Developmental Biology