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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2015 Jan;26(1):81-94. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2013050517. Epub 2014 Jun 5.

Collecting duct-derived cells display mesenchymal stem cell properties and retain selective in vitro and in vivo epithelial capacity.

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Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia;
Diamantina Institute, University of Queensland, Woolloongabba, Queensland, Australia; and.
Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Broad-CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California.
Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia;


We previously described a mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-like population within the adult mouse kidney that displays long-term colony-forming efficiency, clonogenicity, immunosuppression, and panmesodermal potential. Although phenotypically similar to bone marrow (BM)-MSCs, kidney MSC-like cells display a distinct expression profile. FACS sorting from Hoxb7/enhanced green fluorescent protein (GFP) mice identified the collecting duct as a source of kidney MSC-like cells, with these cells undergoing an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition to form clonogenic, long-term, self-renewing MSC-like cells. Notably, after extensive passage, kidney MSC-like cells selectively integrated into the aquaporin 2-positive medullary collecting duct when microinjected into the kidneys of neonatal mice. No epithelial integration was observed after injection of BM-MSCs. Indeed, kidney MSC-like cells retained a capacity to form epithelial structures in vitro and in vivo, and conditioned media from these cells supported epithelial repair in vitro. To investigate the origin of kidney MSC-like cells, we further examined Hoxb7(+) fractions within the kidney across postnatal development, identifying a neonatal interstitial GFP(lo) (Hoxb7(lo)) population displaying an expression profile intermediate between epithelium and interstitium. Temporal analyses with Wnt4(GCE/+):R26(tdTomato/+) mice revealed evidence for the intercalation of a Wnt4-expressing interstitial population into the neonatal collecting duct, suggesting that such intercalation may represent a normal developmental mechanism giving rise to a distinct collecting duct subpopulation. These results extend previous observations of papillary stem cell activity and collecting duct plasticity and imply a role for such cells in collecting duct formation and, possibly, repair.


collecting ducts; epithelial-mesenchymalepithelial transition; kidney; mesenchymal stem cells; stem cell

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