Nephron induction revisited: from caps to condensates

Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2002 Jan;11(1):17-21. doi: 10.1097/00041552-200201000-00003.


Conversion of mesenchyme to epithelium in the metanephric kidney is clearly a multimolecular, multistep and partly redundant process. The present short review focuses on a neglected morphological aspect of kidney differentiation: the development of two transitory mesenchymal condensations that precede epithelial differentiation of nephrons. The first appearing condensate covers the tips of the collecting ducts and is termed a cap condensate. In the early kidney rudiment this structure has been referred to as a primary or early condensate. A few cells of the cap condensate (maybe only four to six cells), situated at the lateral edge of the cap, start proliferating rapidly and form a pretubular aggregate (or pretubular condensate), which converts to secretory nephron epithelia and finally segregates to different tubule segments. Throughout nephrogenesis, the cap condensates and pretubular aggregates are clearly distinguishable structures that show only partly overlapping gene expression profiles. Apart from being the source for the pretubular aggregates, the role of the cap condensate is unknown. It is now proposed that the cap regulates ureteric branching morphogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Epithelium / embryology
  • Kidney Tubules / embryology
  • Kidney Tubules, Collecting / embryology
  • Mesoderm / physiology
  • Nephrons / embryology*