Current epigenetic insights in kidney development

Katrina Chan, Xiaogang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The kidney is among the best characterized developing tissues, with the genes and signaling pathways that regulate embryonic and adult kidney patterning and development having been extensively identified. It is now widely understood that DNA methylation and histone modification patterns are imprinted during embryonic development and must be maintained in adult cells for appropriate gene transcription and phenotypic stability. A compelling question then is how these epigenetic mechanisms play a role in kidney development. In this review, we describe the major genes and pathways that have been linked to epigenetic mechanisms in kidney development. We also discuss recent applications of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) techniques in the study of kidney development. Additionally, we summarize the techniques of single-cell epigenomics, which can potentially be used to characterize epigenomes at single-cell resolution in embryonic and adult kidneys. The combination of scRNA-seq and single-cell epigenomics will help facilitate the further understanding of early cell lineage specification at the level of epigenetic modifications in embryonic and adult kidney development, which may also be used to investigate epigenetic mechanisms in kidney diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1281
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Histone modification
  • Kidney development
  • Single-cell RNA sequencing
  • Single-cell epigenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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