During fetal development, nephrons of the metanephric kidney form from a mesenchymal progenitor population that differentiates en masse before or shortly after birth. We explored intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms controlling progenitor lifespan in a transplantation assay that allowed us to compare engraftment of old and young progenitors into the same young niche. The progenitors displayed an age-dependent decrease in proliferation and concomitant increase in niche exit rates. Single-cell transcriptome profiling revealed progressive age-dependent changes, with heterogeneity increasing in older populations. Age-dependent elevation in mTor and reduction in Fgf20 could contribute to increased exit rates. Importantly, 30% of old progenitors remained in the niche for up to 1 week post engraftment, a net gain of 50% to their lifespan, but only if surrounded by young neighbors. We provide evidence in support of a model in which intrinsic age-dependent changes affect inter-progenitor interactions that drive cessation of nephrogenesis.
Keywords: Fgf20; aging; kidney; mTor; nephron; stem cells.
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