In Vivo Developmental Trajectories of Human Podocyte Inform In Vitro Differentiation of Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Podocytes

Tracy Tran, Nils O. Lindström, Andrew Ransick, Guilherme De Sena Brandine, Qiuyu Guo, Albert D. Kim, Balint Der, Janos Peti-Peterdi, Andrew D. Smith, Matthew Thornton, Brendan Grubbs, Jill A. McMahon, Andrew P. McMahon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The renal corpuscle of the kidney comprises a glomerular vasculature embraced by podocytes and supported by mesangial myofibroblasts, which ensure plasma filtration at the podocyte-generated slit diaphragm. With a spectrum of podocyte-expressed gene mutations causing chronic disease, an enhanced understanding of podocyte development and function to create relevant in vitro podocyte models is a clinical imperative. To characterize podocyte development, scRNA-seq was performed on human fetal kidneys, identifying distinct transcriptional signatures accompanying the differentiation of functional podocytes from progenitors. Interestingly, organoid-generated podocytes exhibited highly similar, progressive transcriptional profiles despite an absence of the vasculature, although abnormal gene expression was pinpointed in late podocytes. On transplantation into mice, organoid-derived podocytes recruited the host vasculature and partially corrected transcriptional profiles. Thus, human podocyte development is mostly intrinsically regulated and vascular interactions refine maturation. These studies support the application of organoid-derived podocytes to model disease and to restore or replace normal kidney functions. Tran et al. performed single-cell RNA sequencing to provide an understanding of human podocyte development. Insights from the in vivo analysis was applied to extensively evaluate the formation of podocytes in vitro, highlighting autonomous programs of development and those requiring an interplay with adjacent cell types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-116.e6
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • development
  • human kidney
  • nephron
  • organoid
  • podocyte
  • stem cell differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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