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Journal Article

Control of kidney differentiation by soluble factors secreted by the embryonic liver and the yolk sac


Ekblom,  P
Ekblom Group, Friedrich Miescher Laboratory, Max Planck Society;


Thesleff,  I       
Ekblom Group, Friedrich Miescher Laboratory, Max Planck Society;

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Ekblom, P., & Thesleff, I. (1985). Control of kidney differentiation by soluble factors secreted by the embryonic liver and the yolk sac. Developmental Biology, 110(1), 29-38. doi:10.1016/0012-1606(85)90060-0.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-AE04-C
Since transferrin is necessary for the differentiation of the embryonic kidney in organ culture, we have suggested that the component is a growth factor for in vivo development as well. In the present study we demonstrate that transferrin is present in the serum of 11-day-old mouse embryos, at the time when kidney differentiation starts. We have also tested whether various embryonic tissues can replace transferrin as stimulators of the differentiation and proliferation of the metanephric mesenchyme. We used a transfilter model system where nephrogenic mesenchymes are cultured with spinal cord, a known inductor of kidney tubules. The embryonic liver could not replace the spinal cord as an inducer of tubular differentiation. However, when the kidney mesenchymes were cultured together with both the spinal cord and the liver, the mesenchymes proliferated and differentiated also in the absence of exogenous transferrin. In such cocultures the spinal cord had to be in close contact with the mesenchyme while the embryonic liver could be located several cell layers apart. The liver-mediated stimulation of proliferation of the induced mesenchyme could be inhibited by anti-transferrin antibodies. Immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting with these antibodies of the liver-conditioned medium demonstrated that the 11-day mouse liver produces transferrin. Other potential mitogens produced by liver cells, alpha-fetoprotein, or multiplication stimulating activity, did not in any way stimulate the proliferation of induced mesenchymes. These studies suggest that the mitogen in the liver medium is transferrin. This is supported by data which show that another embryonic transferring producer, the visceral yolk sac, can replace the effect of the liver, whereas a tissue not producing transferrin, the salivary mesenchyme, cannot. In conclusion, an essential function of the inducer is to make the mesenchyme responsive to transferrin. The liver and the yolk sac stimulate early kidney differentiation by producing the soluble factor, transferrin, but they are ineffective as inductors of the transferrin responsiveness.