Analysis of the process of development of the kidney in the early embryo is yielding clues that could eventually help in the treatment of many important diseases of the kidney. This is an image of a developing mouse kidney that is being grown in a culture dish in the laboratory. The tubule-like elements are composed of epithelial cells that grow and branch to make the collecting ducts of the kidney. The bright orange cells at the tips of the branch points condense around the tips and will make the nephrons, which are the filtration devices of the mature kidney. The complex branching patterns require cellular crosstalk between the tubules and the surrounding cells.
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