Kif3a Controls Murine Nephron Number Via GLI3 Repressor, Cell Survival, and Gene Expression in a Lineage-Specific Manner

The primary cilium is required during early embryo patterning, epithelial tubulogenesis, and growth factor-dependent signal transduction. The requirement for primary cilia during renal epithelial-mesenchymal tissue interactions that give rise to nephrons is undefined. Here, we used Cre-mediated recombination to generate mice with Kif3a deficiency targeted to the ureteric and/or metanephric mesenchyme cell lineages in the embryonic kidney. Gradual loss of primary cilia in either lineage leads to a phenotype of reduced nephron number. Remarkably, in addition to cyst formation, loss of primary cilia in the ureteric epithelial cell leads to decreased expression of Wnt11 and Ret and reduced ureteric branching. Constitutive expression of GLI3 repressor (Gli3Δ699/+) rescues these abnormalities. In embryonic metanephric mesenchyme cells, Kif3a deficiency limits survival of nephrogenic progenitor cells and expression of genes required for nephron formation. Together, our data demonstrate that Kif3a controls nephron number via distinct cell lineage-specific mechanisms.