The development of the mammalian kidney has been studied at the genetic, biochemical, and cell biological level for more than 40 years. As such, detailed mechanisms governing early patterning, cell lineages, and inductive interactions have been well described. How genes interact to specify the renal epithelial cells of the nephrons and how this specification is relevant to maintaining normal renal function is discussed. Implicit in the development of the kidney are epigenetic mechanisms that mark renal cell types and connect certain developmental regulatory factors to chromatin modifications that control gene expression patterns and cellular physiology. In adults, such regulatory factors and their epigenetic pathways may function in regeneration and may be disturbed in disease processes.
Keywords: Kidney development; epigenetics; intermediate mesoderm; nephrogenesis.
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