Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α regulates branching morphogenesis during kidney development

Kenji Tsuji, Shinji Kitamura, Hirofumi Makino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The kidneys are exposed to hypoxic conditions during development. Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), an important mediator of the response to hypoxia, is believed to have an important role in development. However, the relationship between HIF and branching morphogenesis has not been elucidated clearly. In this study, we examined whether HIF regulates kidney development. We harvested kidneys from day 13 rat embryos (E13Ks) and cultured the organs under normoxic (20% O2/5% CO2) or hypoxic (5% O2/5% CO2) conditions. We evaluated the kidneys based on morphology and gene expression. E13Ks cultured under hypoxic conditions had significantly more ureteric bud (UB) branching than the E13Ks cultured under normoxic conditions. In addition, the mRNA levels of GDNF and GDNF receptor (GFR-α1), increased under hypoxic conditions in E13Ks. When we cultured E13Ks with the HIF-1α inhibitor digoxin or with siRNA targeting HIF-1α under hypoxic conditions, we did not observe increased UB branching. In addition, the expression of GDNF and GFR-α1 was inhibited under hypoxic conditions when the kidneys were treated with siRNA targeting HIF-1α. We also elucidated that hypoxia inhibited UB cell apoptosis and promoted the expression of FGF7 mRNA levels in metanephric mesenchymal (MM) cells in vitro. These findings suggest that hypoxic condition has important roles in inducing branching morphogenesis during kidney development. Hypoxia might mediate branching morphogenesis via not only GDNF/Ret but also FGF signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-114
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 25 2014


  • HIF-1α
  • Hypoxia
  • Kidney development
  • Ureteric bud branching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α regulates branching morphogenesis during kidney development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this