An illustrated anatomical ontology of the developing mouse lower urogenital tract

Development. 2015 May 15;142(10):1893-908. doi: 10.1242/dev.117903. Epub 2015 May 12.


Malformation of the urogenital tract represents a considerable paediatric burden, with many defects affecting the lower urinary tract (LUT), genital tubercle and associated structures. Understanding the molecular basis of such defects frequently draws on murine models. However, human anatomical terms do not always superimpose on the mouse, and the lack of accurate and standardised nomenclature is hampering the utility of such animal models. We previously developed an anatomical ontology for the murine urogenital system. Here, we present a comprehensive update of this ontology pertaining to mouse LUT, genital tubercle and associated reproductive structures (E10.5 to adult). Ontology changes were based on recently published insights into the cellular and gross anatomy of these structures, and on new analyses of epithelial cell types present in the pelvic urethra and regions of the bladder. Ontology changes include new structures, tissue layers and cell types within the LUT, external genitalia and lower reproductive structures. Representative illustrations, detailed text descriptions and molecular markers that selectively label muscle, nerves/ganglia and epithelia of the lower urogenital system are also presented. The revised ontology will be an important tool for researchers studying urogenital development/malformation in mouse models and will improve our capacity to appropriately interpret these with respect to the human situation.

Keywords: Bladder; External genitalia; Genital tubercle; Lower reproductive tract; Lower urinary tract; Mouse embryogenesis; Murine urogenital system development; Pelvic ganglion; Pelvic urethra; Phallic urethra; Prostate gland; Trigone; Ureter; Urethra; Urethral plate; Urogenital sinus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Urethra / anatomy & histology
  • Urethra / embryology
  • Urinary Bladder / anatomy & histology
  • Urinary Bladder / embryology
  • Urinary Tract / anatomy & histology
  • Urinary Tract / embryology
  • Urogenital System / anatomy & histology*
  • Urogenital System / embryology*