A drizzle of lemon juice in your salad, a pinch of baking soda in your dough. It's all about the balance between acid and alkali – something that is true both in cooking and in our kidneys. The kidney's collecting ducts help maintain the balance between acid and alkali so that our body’s cells have a comfortable environment to work in. Researchers investigated the development of collecting duct cells vital to this process: intercalated (ICs) and principal (PCs) cells. They deleted a protein called Tfcp2l1 in mice, imaged their kidneys (pictured) and at first sight the mutant kidneys (right) looked the same as normal kidneys (left). A closer look revealed a lack of mature ICs. It turns out Tfcp2l1 regulates a cascade of signals – called Notch signalling – that coordinates the development of ICs and PCs in different ways. Without Tfcp2l1, their development goes awry, disrupting the much-needed collecting ducts.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
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