Serluca FC, Fishman MC. 2001. Pre-pattern in the pronephric kidney field of zebrafish. Development (Cambridge, England). 128(12):2233-41. Pubmed: 11493543


Vertebrate embryos use a series of transient kidneys to regulate fluid balance, osmolarity and metabolic waste during development. The first kidney to form in the embryo is the pronephros. This kidney is composed of several cell types with very different functions and is organized into discrete segments: glomerulus, tubules and nephric duct. The site of origin of these cells is poorly understood, as are their lineage relationships. We have defined regions of the intermediate mesoderm as candidates for the pronephric field by expression patterns of the Wilms' Tumor suppressor gene (wt1), single-minded 1 (sim1) and pax2.1. All of these potential kidney markers are expressed in a stripe of intermediate mesoderm, with distinct, overlapping antero-posterior borders. We labeled small groups of cells in this area by laser uncaging of a fluorescent dextran, and then tracked their fates. We found that there was a bounded contiguous region of the intermediate mesoderm that provides pronephric progenitors. As is true for other organ fields, the pronephric field regulates after focal destruction, such that a normal pronephros forms after laser-mediated removal of the wt1 domain. The progenitors for podocytes, tubular cells and duct are restricted to subdomains within the pronephric field. The most anterior cells in the pronephric field give rise to podocytes. This corresponds to the wt1-expressing region. The next more posterior cells contribute to the tubule, and express both wt1 and pax2.1. The most posterior cells contribute to the nephric duct, and these express pax2.1 and sim1, but not wt1. Thus, there is a field for the pronephric kidney with classical attributes of defined border, pre-pattern and regulation. The pattern of the fate map reflects particular combinations of transcription factors.

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Photo of Mark C. Fishman

Mark C. Fishman’s group studies the heart-brain connection. They employ a range of genetic, developmental, and neurobiological tools in zebrafish to understand what the heart tells the brain, and how critical internal sensory systems adjust homeostatic and somatic behaviors, including social interactions.

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