CSH Protocols, May 2011The adult mouse kidney begins to develop at embryonic day 10.5, when the epithelial ureteric bud evaginates from the Wolffian duct and grows into adjacent metanephric mesenchyme.  Over the course of several days, the ureteric bud repeatedly branches, giving rise to the ureter, pelvis, calyces, and renal collecting ducts of the adult kidney.

The kidney can develop in culture, from the first stage of ureteric bud evagination through the first 8-10 rounds of branching.  These processes can therefore be visualized through time-lapse imaging, providing a greater understanding of normal kidney morphogenesis and how genetic perturbations affect kidney development.

This month’s issue of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, out today, features an article that presents the general concepts of imaging kidney development and describes genetically modified mice that express fluorescent proteins useful for visualizing different cell lineages and developmental processes in these organ cultures.  A detailed step-by-step protocol for dissecting, culturing, and imaging embryonic mouse kidneys is also published in the issue.  Both articles were written by Frank Costantini (Columbia University Medical Center), Shankar Srinivas (University of Oxford), and colleagues.