Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Changing Identities

Following kidney progenitor cells on their journey of development into the maturing organ

08 March 2019

Changing Identities

Where you grew up, where you moved to and where you live now have all shaped who you are. Cells are much the same, especially during development when they travel to their final destinations, exposing themselves to different microenvironments. Researchers investigate this process in kidney progenitor cells using sections of kidney tissue from mice (pictured). Some progenitor cells (white) mature into cells of the nephrons, the functional units of the kidney, while others maintain the pool of progenitors. The team fluorescently tagged Wnt4 (green), an early marker of maturing progenitor cells, which is switched on when these cells leave their ‘home’, where they normally reside in the kidney during development. They found through random cell movements, some of these cells returned home and were then able to switch off Wnt4. This highlights how flexible the identity of these cells is in response to the microenvironment they find themselves in.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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