The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 43: 413 - 418 (1999)

Vol 43, Issue 5

Special Issue: Nephrogenesis

GDNF and its receptors in the regulation of the ureteric branching

Published: 1 August 1999

H Sariola and M Saarma

Institute of Biotechnology, Viikki Biocentre, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Recent transgenic and organ culture experiments have inevitably shown that glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a mesenchyme-derived signal for ureteric budding and branching. The signalling receptor complex for GDNF includes a dimer of Ret receptor tyrosine kinase and two molecules of GDNF family receptor alpha1. Alpha-receptors are not only needed for the ligand binding and Ret activation, but they might mediate signals without Ret. While GDNF is clearly required for ureteric branching, tissue recombination studies have shown that it is not sufficient for the completion of ureteric morphogenesis, and other signalling molecules are needed. Different experimental models have resulted in somewhat contradictory results on their molecular identity, but transforming growth factor-beta1, -beta2, fibroblast growth factor-7 and hepatocyte growth factor form, obviously among others, a redundant set of growth factors in ureteric differentiation. Three other members of the GDNF family, neurturin, artemin and persephin, are also expressed in the developing kidney, and at least neurturin and persephin promote ureteric branching in vitro, but their true in vivo roles are still unclear.

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