Mammalian kidneys show limited regeneration of tubules from pre-existing epithelial cells while fish kidneys can undergo stem cell mediated repair. The resident kidney stem cells however, remain to be identified. In recent work we identified a population of adult kidney cells marked by a frizzled wnt receptor and found that kidney regeneration requires Wnt signaling. Ongoing work fate mapping and testing the potency and molecular profile of these cells will shed light on new mechanisms of kidney regeneration.
To restore kidney function, filtering nephrons must connect to a tubule network to pass fluid. How cells rearrange and form new connections is not known. We are using the regenerating zebrafish kidney as a model to discover how tubule interconnections are made and to uncover signals that drive cell rearrangments required to “plumb” the kidney. Knowledge of these signals will be an important part of the molecular toolbox for growing new organs. This work is part of the new NIH Consortium “ReBuilding a Kidney”.