Epithelial tubules must have the right length and pattern for proper function. In the nephron, planar cell polarity controls elongation along the proximal-distal axis. As the tubule lengthens, specialized segments (proximal, distal etc.) begin to differentiate along it. Other epithelia need Rho-kinase for planar cell polarity but it is not known whether Rho-kinase is involved in this way in the nephron. We show that Rho-kinase is essential for the morphogenesis of nephrons, specifically for correct cell orientation and volume. We use fluorescent reporter-models and progenitor-specific markers to demonstrate that inhibition of Rho-kinase prevents proper proximal-distal axis formation, causes segments to develop abnormally, and progenitor-cell segregation to fail. Our data demonstrate the importance of Rho-kinase in normal nephron tubulogenesis and patterning.
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