The zebrafish pronephric kidney provides a useful and relevant model of kidney development and function. It is composed of cell types common to all vertebrate kidneys and pronephric organogenesis is regulated by transcription factors that have highly conserved functions in mammalian kidney development. Pronephric nephrons are a good model of tubule segmentation and differentiation of epithelial cell types. The pronephric glomerulus provides a simple model to assay gene function in regulating cell structure and cell interactions that form the blood filtration apparatus. The relative simplicity of the pronephric kidney combined with the ease of genetic manipulation in zebrafish makes it well suited for mutation analysis and gene discovery, in vivo imaging, functional screens of candidate genes from other species, and cell isolation by FACS . In addition, the larval and adult zebrafish kidneys have emerged as systems to study kidney regeneration after injury. This chapter provides a review of pronephric structure and development as well as current methods to study the pronephros.
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