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Kidney Beams

Protein identified with a critical role in kidney development

13 December 2019

Kidney Beams

A complex network of tubules develops in our kidneys – plumbing waste chemicals out of the blood while allowing just the right amount of water and nutrients back in. Artificial fluorescent stains decorate this developing mouse kidney’s cells in blue, and cells in its early network of tubes in pink and red. A green stain highlights cells descended from mesenchymal nephron progenitors (MNPs), first found in the cortex (top) of the developing kidney which change or differentiate into the early tubes forming below. How MNPs are guided during development is a little mysterious, so later experiments investigated proteins found inside. One of these, called β-catenin, works in a careful balance to help form kidney tubules while making sure the segments of the kidney, called nephrons, develop as they should – further study may suggest how and when this important protein switches on and off during human development.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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