The kidney is a complex organ with over 30 different cell types, and understanding the lineage relationships between these cells is challenging. During nephrogenesis, a central question is how the coordinated morphogenesis, growth, and differentiation of distinct cell types leads to development of a functional organ. In mature kidney, understanding cell division and fate during injury, regeneration and aging are critical topics for understanding disease. Genetic lineage tracing offers a powerful tool to decipher cellular hierarchies in both development and disease because it allows the progeny of a single cell, or group of cells, to be tracked unambiguously. Recent advances in this field include the use of inducible recombinases, multicolor reporters, and mosaic analysis. In this review, we discuss lineage-tracing methods focusing on the mouse model system and consider the impact of these methods on our understanding of kidney biology and prospects for future application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-488
Number of pages8
JournalKidney International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • kidney development
  • kidney disease
  • lineage tracing
  • mouse genetics
  • recombination


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