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The generation of kidney organoids by differentiation of human pluripotent cells to ureteric bud progenitor–like cells

Nature Protocols volume 9, pages 26932704 (2014) | Download Citation


This protocol presents recently developed methodologies for the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into ureteric bud (UB) progenitor–like cells. Differentiation of human PSCs to UB progenitor–like cells allows for the generation of chimeric kidney cultures in which the human cells can self-assemble into chimeric 3D structures in combination with embryonic mouse kidney cells over a period of 18 d. UB progenitor–like cells are generated by a two-step process that combines in vitro commitment of human PSCs, whether embryonic stem cells (ESCs) or induced PSCs (iPSCs), under chemically defined culture conditions, with ex vivo cultures for the induction of 3D organogenesis. The models described here provide new opportunities for investigating human kidney development, modeling disease, evaluating regenerative medicine strategies, as well as for toxicology studies.

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We thank M. Schwarz for administrative support. We thank J. Kasuboski from the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Core at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies for help with imaging processing. Y.X. was partially supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) through a CIRM Training grant. I.S.-M. was partially supported by a Nomis Foundation postdoctoral fellowship. Work in the laboratory of J.C.I.B. was supported by grants from the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust (2012-PG-MED002).

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Author notes

    • Yun Xia
    • , Ignacio Sancho-Martinez
    •  & Emmanuel Nivet

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

    • Emmanuel Nivet

    Present address: Aix Marseille Université, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Neurobiologie des Interactions Cellulaires et Neurophysiopathologie (NICN) Unité Mixte de Recherche (UMR) 7259, Marseille, France.


  1. Gene Expression Laboratory, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California, USA.

    • Yun Xia
    • , Ignacio Sancho-Martinez
    • , Emmanuel Nivet
    • , Concepcion Rodriguez Esteban
    •  & Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte
  2. Renal Division, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, Institut d'investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain.

    • Josep Maria Campistol


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Y.X., I.S.-M., E.N., C.R.E., J.M.C. and J.C.I.B. designed all experiments and developed the methodologies presented here. Y.X., I.S.-M., E.N. and J.C.I.B. wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte.

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