EpCAM controls morphogenetic programs during zebrafish pronephros development

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2017 May 27;487(2):209-215. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.04.035. Epub 2017 Apr 12.


Epithelial cell adhesion molecule EpCAM is a transmembrane glycoprotein that is dynamically expressed in human and murine renal epithelia during development. The levels of EpCAM in the renal epithelium are upregulated both during regeneration after ischemia/reperfusion injury and in renal-derived carcinomas. The role of EpCAM in early kidney development, however, has remained unclear. The zebrafish pronephros shows a similar segmentation pattern to the mammalian metanephric nephron, and has recently emerged as a tractable model to study the regulatory programs governing early nephrogenesis. Since EpCAM shows persistent expression in the pronephros throughout early development, we developed a method to study the global changes in gene expression in specific pronephric segments of wild type and EpCAM-deficient zebrafish embryos. In epcam mutants, we found 379 differentially expressed genes. Gene ontology analysis revealed that EpCAM controls various developmental programs, including uretric bud development, morphogenesis of branching epithelium, regulation of cell differentiation and cilium morphogenesis.

Keywords: Distal tubule; Epcam; Laser-capture microdissection; Pronephros development; RNA-seq; Zebrafish.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Morphogenesis / physiology*
  • Pronephros / embryology*
  • Pronephros / growth & development
  • Pronephros / metabolism*
  • Zebrafish / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / growth & development
  • Zebrafish / metabolism*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism*


  • EpCAM protein, zebrafish
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins