The two major components of the kidney, the collecting system and the nephron, have different developmental histories. The collecting system arises by the reiterated branching of a simple epithelial tube, while the nephron forms from a cloud of mesenchymal cells that coalesce into epithelial vesicles. Each develops into a morphologically complex and highly differentiated structure, and together they provide essential filtration and resorption functions. In this review, we will consider their embryological origin and the genes controlling their morphogenesis, patterning, and differentiation, with a focus on recent advances in several areas.
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