HSCI Alumni: Akio Kobayashi, PhD
University of Washington
The primary interest of our laboratory is to understand the cellular and molecular regulatory mechanisms leading to the establishment of the mammalian kidney using the mouse as a model system.
The kidney is made up of approximately one million functional units, the nephrons. We utilized gene targeting in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells to generate a series of mouse lines that enable genetic manipulation of developing kidneys in tissue-specific manners. Using these animal resources, we have defined the fate map of distinct domains during kidney organogenesis and identified a multipotent, self-renewing nephron progenitor population in the developing kidney.
We further discovered genes that are required to maintain the undifferentiated status of nephron progenitor cells. One of such genes is a transcription factor Pax2. Currently, our laboratory is investigating transcriptional networks that establish the nephron progenitor status during kidney development using the Pax2 gene as a molecular entry point.
With kidney disease the nephrons are lost and replaced by fibrous tissue. Our group is also focused on understanding the genes that are involved in programming the nephron so that it can be ultimately possible to create new nephron in the adult and patients with kidney disease can avoid the need for dialysis or renal transplantation.