Embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells have the ability to differentiate into various organs and tissues, and are regarded as new tools for the elucidation of disease mechanisms as well as sources for regenerative therapies. However, a method of inducing organ-specific cells from pluripotent stem cells is urgently needed. Although many scientists have been developing methods to induce various organ-specific cells from pluripotent stem cells, renal lineage cells have yet to be induced in vitro because of the complexity of kidney structures and the diversity of kidney-component cells. Here, we describe a method of inducing renal tubular cells from mouse embryonic stem cells via the cell purification of kidney specific protein (KSP)-positive cells using an anti-KSP antibody. The global gene expression profiles of KSP-positive cells derived from ES cells exhibited characteristics similar to those of cells in the developing kidney, and KSP-positive cells had the capacity to form tubular structures resembling renal tubular cells when grown in a 3D culture in Matrigel. Moreover, our results indicated that KSP-positive cells acquired the characteristics of each segment of renal tubular cells through tubular formation when stimulated with Wnt4. This method is an important step toward kidney disease research using pluripotent stem cells, and the development of kidney regeneration therapies.
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