Renin cells are precursors for multiple cell types that switch to the renin phenotype when homeostasis is threatened

Dev Cell. 2004 May;6(5):719-28. doi: 10.1016/s1534-5807(04)00134-0.


Renin-synthesizing cells are crucial in the regulation of blood pressure and fluid-electrolyte homeostasis. Adult mammals subjected to manipulations that threaten homeostasis increase circulating renin by increasing the number of renin-expressing/-releasing cells. We hypothesize that the ability of adult cells to synthesize renin does not occur randomly in any cell type, depending instead on the cell's lineage. To determine the fate of renin-expressing cells, we generated knockin mice expressing cre recombinase in renin-expressing cells and crossed them with reporter mice. Results show that renin-expressing cells are precursors for a variety of cells that differentiate into non-renin-expressing cells such as smooth-muscle, epithelial, mesangial, and extrarenal cells. In the kidney, these cells retain the capability to synthesize renin when additional hormone is required to reestablish homeostasis: specific subpopulations of apparently differentiated cells are "held in reserve" to respond (repeatedly) by de-differentiating and expressing renin in response to stress, and re-differentiating when the crisis passes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Lineage / physiology
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Glomerular Mesangium / cytology
  • Glomerular Mesangium / growth & development
  • Glomerular Mesangium / metabolism
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Juxtaglomerular Apparatus / cytology
  • Juxtaglomerular Apparatus / growth & development*
  • Juxtaglomerular Apparatus / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / cytology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity
  • Phenotype
  • Renin / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance / physiology


  • Renin