Zebrafish Pronephros Development

  • Richard W. Naylor
  • Sarah S. Qubisi
  • Alan J. DavidsonEmail author
Part of the Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation book series (RESULTS, volume 60)


The pronephros is the first kidney type to form in vertebrate embryos. The first step of pronephrogenesis in the zebrafish is the formation of the intermediate mesoderm during gastrulation, which occurs in response to secreted morphogens such as BMPs and Nodals. Patterning of the intermediate mesoderm into proximal and distal cell fates is induced by retinoic acid signaling with downstream transcription factors including wt1a, pax2a, pax8, hnf1b, sim1a, mecom, and irx3b. In the anterior intermediate mesoderm, progenitors of the glomerular blood filter migrate and fuse at the midline and recruit a blood supply. More posteriorly localized tubule progenitors undergo epithelialization and fuse with the cloaca. The Notch signaling pathway regulates the formation of multi-ciliated cells in the tubules and these cells help propel the filtrate to the cloaca. The lumenal sheer stress caused by flow down the tubule activates anterior collective migration of the proximal tubules and induces stretching and proliferation of the more distal segments. Ultimately these processes create a simple two-nephron kidney that is capable of reabsorbing and secreting solutes and expelling excess water—processes that are critical to the homeostasis of the body fluids. The zebrafish pronephric kidney provides a simple, yet powerful, model system to better understand the conserved molecular and cellular progresses that drive nephron formation, structure, and function.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard W. Naylor
    • 1
  • Sarah S. Qubisi
    • 1
  • Alan J. Davidson
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Health SciencesThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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