Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Joseph M. Verdi

Second Committee Member

Leif Oxburgh

Third Committee Member

Jonathan Himmelfarb


Branching morphogenesis is a developmental process characteristic of many organ systems. Specifically, during renal branching morphogenesis, it has been postulated that the final number of nephrons formed is one key clinical factor in the development of hypertension in adulthood. As it has been established that BMPs regulate renal activity of p38 MAP kinase (p38MAPK) and it has been demonstrated that the cytoplasmic protein Neurotrophin Receptor MAGE homologue (NRAGE) augments p38MAPK activation, it was hypothesized that a decrease in the expression of NRAGE during renal branching would result in decreased branching of the UB that correlated with changes in p38MAPK activation. To verify this, the expression of NRAGE was reduced in ex vivo kidney explants cultures using antisense morpholinos. Morpholino treated ex vivo kidney explants expression were severely stunted in branching, a trait that was rescued with the addition of exogenous GDNF. Renal explants also demonstrated a precipitous drop in p38MAPK activation that too was reversed in the presence of recombinant GDNF. RNA profiling of NRAGE diminished ex vivo kidney explants resulted in altered expression of GDNF, Ret, BMP7 and BMPRIb mRNAs. Our results suggested that in early kidney development NRAGE might have multiple roles during renal branching morphogenesis through association with both the BMP and GDNF signaling pathways.

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