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Pediatr Nephrol. 2014 Apr;29(4):721-6. doi: 10.1007/s00467-013-2688-0. Epub 2013 Dec 15.

Fate and plasticity of renin precursors in development and disease.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Virginia School of Medicine, 409 Lane Road, Room 2001, Charlottesville, VA, 22908, USA,


Renin-expressing cells appear early in the embryo and are distributed broadly throughout the body as organogenesis ensues. Their appearance in the metanephric kidney is a relatively late event in comparison with other organs such as the fetal adrenal gland. The functions of renin cells in extra renal tissues remain to be investigated. In the kidney, they participate locally in the assembly and branching of the renal arterial tree and later in the endocrine control of blood pressure and fluid-electrolyte homeostasis. Interestingly, this endocrine function is accomplished by the remarkable plasticity of renin cell descendants along the kidney arterioles and glomeruli which are capable of reacquiring the renin phenotype in response to physiological demands, increasing circulating renin and maintaining homeostasis. Given that renin cells are sensors of the status of the extracellular fluid and perfusion pressure, several signaling mechanisms (β-adrenergic receptors, Notch pathway, gap junctions and the renal baroreceptor) must be coordinated to ensure the maintenance of renin phenotype--and ultimately the availability of renin--during basal conditions and in response to homeostatic threats. Notably, key transcriptional (Creb/CBP/p300, RBP-J) and posttranscriptional (miR-330, miR125b-5p) effectors of those signaling pathways are prominent in the regulation of renin cell identity. The next challenge, it seems, would be to understand how those factors coordinate their efforts to control the endocrine and contractile phenotypes of the myoepithelioid granulated renin-expressing cell.

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