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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e32771. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032771. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Expression of Bcl-2 and Bax in mouse renal tubules during kidney development.

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  • 1Department of Histology and Embryology, Institute of Pathology and Pathophysiology, China Medical University, Shen Yang, Liao Ning, China.


Bcl-2 and Bax play an important role in apoptosis regulation, as well as in cell adhesion and migration during kidney morphogenesis, which is structurally and functionally related to mitochondria. In order to elucidate the role of Bcl-2 and Bax during kidney development, it is essential to establish the exact location of their expression in the kidney. The present study localized their expression during kidney development. Kidneys from embryonic (E) 16-, 17-, 18-day-old mouse fetuses, and postnatal (P) 1-, 3-, 5-, 7-, 14-, 21-day-old pups were embedded in Epon. Semi-thin serial sections from two E17 kidneys underwent computer assisted 3D tubule tracing. The tracing was combined with a newly developed immunohistochemical technique, which enables immunohistochemistry on glutaraldehyde fixated plastic embedded sections. Thereby, the microstructure could be described in detail, and the immunochemistry can be performed using exactly the same sections. The study showed that Bcl-2 and Bax were strongly expressed in mature proximal convoluted tubules at all time points, less strongly expressed in proximal straight tubules, and only weakly in immature proximal tubules and distal tubules. No expression was detected in ureteric bud and other earlier developing structures, such as comma bodies, S shaped bodies, glomeruli, etc. Tubules expressing Bcl-2 only were occasionally observed. The present study showed that, during kidney development, Bcl-2 and Bax are expressed differently in the proximal and distal tubules, although these two tubule segments are almost equally equipped with mitochondria. The functional significance of the different expression of Bcl-2 and Bax in proximal and distal tubules is unknown. However, the findings of the present study suggest that the mitochondrial function differs between mature proximal tubules and in the rest of the tubules. The function of Bcl-2 and Bax during tubulogenesis still needs to be investigated.

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