Development

Planaria have model kidneys

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Science  10 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6244, pp. 151
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6244.151-a

Protonephridia of the planarian excretory system

PHOTO: H. T.-K. VU ET AL., ELIFE (9 JUNE 2015) © 2015 ELIFE SCIENCES PUBLICATIONS LTD.

Individuals with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) develop fluid-filled cysts in their nephrons that interfere with kidney function. Looking for a suitable invertebrate model of PKD, Vu et al. discovered that the excretory system of planarian flatworms is a good model for normal and diseased human kidneys. The planarian protonephridia shares structural similarities with the subsegments of the vertebrate nephron, and both organisms use cilia-driven ultrafiltration and filtrate modification. Moreover, mutating planarian orthologs of human genes resulted in phenotypes and pathologies similar to those seen in human PKD.

eLife 10.7554/eLife.07405 (2015).

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