Lineage tracing was originally developed by developmental biologists to identify all progeny of a single cell during morphogenesis. More recently this approach has been applied to other fields, including organ homeostasis and recovery from injury. Modern lineage tracing techniques typically rely on reporter gene expression induced by cell-specific DNA recombination. There have been important scientific advances in the last 10 years that have impacted lineage tracing approaches, including intersectional genetics, optical clearing techniques, and the use of sequencing-based genomic lineage tracing. The latter combines CRISPR-Cas9–based genetic scarring with single-cell RNA-sequencing that, in theory, could allow comprehensive reconstruction of a lineage tree for an entire organism. This review summarizes recent advances in lineage tracing technologies and outlines potential applications for kidney research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1179-1184
Number of pages6
JournalKidney International
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • CRISPR-Cas9
  • Cre recombinase
  • lineage analysis


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