The kidney possesses a highly organised vasculature that is required for its filtration function. While recent advances in stem cell biology have enabled the in vitro generation of kidney tissues, at least partially, recapitulation of the complicated vascular architecture remains a huge challenge. Herein we develop a method to reconstitute both the kidney and its vascular architecture in vitro, using dissociated and sorted mouse embryonic kidney cells. Upon transplantation, arteriolar networks were re-established that ran through the interstitial space between branching ureteric buds and eventually entered glomeruli. Using this system, we found that donor-derived endothelial cells significantly contributed to the arterioles and glomerular capillaries formed after transplantation. Unexpectedly, the near-complete depletion of canonical endothelial cells from the donor embryonic kidney suggested the existence of unidentified donor-derived endothelial precursors that were negative for canonical endothelial markers, but still contributed significantly to the vasculature in the transplants. Thus, our protocol will serve as a useful platform for identification of renal endothelial precursors and induction of these precursors from pluripotent stem cells.
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