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Development. 1999 Feb;126(3):547-54.

FGF-7 modulates ureteric bud growth and nephron number in the developing kidney.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics and Department of Urology, Cornell University Medical College, New York, NY 10021, USA.


The importance of proportioning kidney size to body volume was established by clinical studies which demonstrated that in-born defecits of nephron number predispose the kidney to disease. As the kidney develops, the expanding ureteric bud or renal collecting system induces surrounding metanephric mesenchyme to proliferate and differentiate into nephrons. Thus, it is likely that nephron number is related to ureteric bud growth. The expression patterns of mRNAs encoding Fibroblast Growth Factor-7 (FGF-7) and its high affinity receptor suggested that FGF-7 signaling may play a role in regulating ureteric bud growth. To test this hypothesis we examined kidneys from FGF-7-null and wild-type mice. Results of these studies demonstrate that the developing ureteric bud and mature collecting system of FGF-7-null kidneys is markedly smaller than wild type. Furthermore, morphometric analyses indicate that mature FGF-7-null kidneys have 30+/-6% fewer nephrons than wild-type kidneys. In vitro experiments demonstrate that elevated levels of FGF-7 augment ureteric bud growth and increase the number of nephrons that form in rodent metanephric kidney organ cultures. Collectively, these results demonstrate that FGF-7 levels modulate the extent of ureteric bud growth during development and the number of nephrons that eventually form in the kidney.

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