Induction of early stages of kidney tubule differentiation by lithium ions

Dev Biol. 1995 Jan;167(1):50-60. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1995.1006.


Kidney tubules develop by a mesenchyme-epithelium transition, normally induced by ureteric bud through a mechanism that remains obscure. Murine nephrogenesis in vitro has always required heterologous inducing cells. We have discovered that Li+ can elicit the early stages of epithelial differentiation in isolated nephrogenic mesenchyme. We have made detailed comparisons of the timing of morphoregulatory molecule expression between Li(+)-mediated induction and the traditional in vitro method using induction by spinal cord. Both followed the same program of early morphoregulatory molecule expression, though Li(+)-induced samples failed to progress into the later parts of the nephrogenic process. Mesenchymes induced by Li+ showed more DNA synthesis than controls, though less than those induced by spinal cord. Discovery of a chemical means to activate differentiation in the absence of heterologous tissue offers a new basis for studying molecular mechanisms regulating the early events of nephrogenesis, as well as for investigating transduction of inductive signals that initiate the process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bucladesine / pharmacology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Epithelium / embryology
  • Female
  • Kidney Tubules / embryology*
  • Lithium / pharmacology*
  • Mesoderm / physiology
  • Mice
  • Morphogenesis
  • Pregnancy
  • Spinal Cord / physiology


  • Bucladesine
  • DNA
  • Lithium