R. Ariel Gomez
Ontogeny of renin-angiotensis system, differentiation of the JG cell.
In addition to their role as precursors for other cell types, renin cells may have other functions. To test whether renin cells per se are important in kidney development we generated a mouse model in which renin cells are absent. Whereas the kidney phenotype of this mouse is similar in many respects to the phenotypes obtained with deletion of genes of the renin-angiotensin system, a striking difference was the absence of vascular abnormalities such as arteriolar thickening and diminished branching characteristic of those models lacking angiotensin action. In fact, the vessels of mice lacking JG cells were thinner with a diminished number of smooth muscle cells suggesting that the presence of renin cells was linked to the vascular abnormalities observed in animals deficient in angiotensin. Altogether, the experiments suggest that renin cells may not only be physiological sensors but may also be necessary for the maintenance of the morphological and physiological integrity of the kidney.