Mature nephrons originate from a small population of uninduced nephrogenic progenitor cells (NPs) within the cap mesenchyme. These cells are characterized by the coexpression of SIX2 and CITED1. Many studies on mouse models as well as on human pluripotent stem cells have advanced our knowledge of NPs, but very little is known about this population in humans, since it is exhausted before birth and strategies for its direct isolation are still limited. Here we report an efficient protocol for direct isolation of human NPs without genetic manipulation or stepwise induction procedures. With the use of RNA-labeling probes, we isolated SIX2+ CITED1+ cells from human fetal kidney for the first time. We confirmed their nephrogenic state by gene profiling and evaluated their nephrogenic capabilities in giving rise to mature renal cells. We also evaluated the ability to culture these cells without complete loss of SIX2 and CITED1 expression over time. In addition to defining the gene profile of human NPs, this in vitro system facilitates studies of human renal development and provides a novel tool for renal regeneration and bioengineering purposes. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2017;6:419-433.
Keywords: Direct isolation of live cells; Human nephron progenitors; Smartflares.
© 2016 The Authors Stem Cells Translational Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of AlphaMed Press.