Research Article

Single-cell transcriptomics of the mouse kidney reveals potential cellular targets of kidney disease

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Science  05 Apr 2018:
eaar2131
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar2131

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Abstract

Our understanding of kidney disease pathogenesis is limited by an incomplete molecular characterization of the cell types responsible for the organ’s multiple homeostatic functions. To help fill this knowledge gap, we characterized 57,979 cells from healthy mouse kidneys using unbiased single-cell RNA sequencing. Based on gene expression patterns, we infer that inherited kidney diseases that arise from distinct genetic mutations but share the same phenotypic manifestation originate from the same cell differentiated type. We also found that the kidney collecting duct in adult mice generates a spectrum of cell types via a newly identified transitional cell. Computational cell trajectory analysis and in vivo lineage tracing revealed that intercalated cells and principal cells undergo transitions mediated by the Notch signaling pathway. In mouse and human kidney disease, these transitions were shifted toward a principal cell fate and were associated with metabolic acidosis.

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