Signals Which Build a Tubule

Nephron Exp Nephrol. 2005;100(1):e40-5. doi: 10.1159/000084111. Epub 2005 Feb 22.


The phenomenon of branching morphogenesis is a fundamental process critical for development of several tubular organs including lung, mammary gland, and kidney. In the case of kidney, the ureteric bud (UB) that extends out from a pre-existing epithelial tube, the Wolffian duct, gives rise to the branched collecting duct system while the surrounding metanephric mesenchyme undergoes mesenchymal-epithelial transition to form the proximal parts of the nephron. These events are mediated by several soluble factors that act in a cooperative fashion either as pro or anti tubulogenic factors. Among the growing list of such molecules are the members of the FGF, TGF-beta, and Wnt families as well as GDNF, HGF, and EGF. Cells respond to these soluble factors by initiating signaling pathways that regulate cell proliferation, cell migration and cell morphogenesis. These signaling pathways are also regulated in parallel by cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, leading to the complex events necessary for tubule formation. Recent in-vitro and in-vivo studies have begun to shed light on the overall regulation of this phenomenon while the specific subcellular mechanisms are only beginning to be understood. This review focuses on our understanding of the morphogenic responses that regulate in-vitro tubulogenesis and how they may help us to ultimately understand this process in vivo in the kidney.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Growth Substances / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Tubules / embryology*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Growth Substances