Hsu, H.-J., Lin, G., and Chung, B.-C. (2003) Parallel early development of zebrafish interrenal glands and pronephros: differential control by wt1 and ff1b. Development (Cambridge, England). 130(10):2107-2116.
Steroids are synthesized mainly from the adrenal cortex. Adrenal deficiencies are often associated with problems related to its development, which is not fully understood. To better understand adrenocortical development, we studied zebrafish because of the ease of embryo manipulation. The adrenocortical equivalent in zebrafish is called the interrenal, because it is embedded in the kidney. We find that interrenal development parallels that of the embryonic kidney (pronephros). Primordial interrenal cells first appear as bilateral intermediate mesoderm expressing ff1b in a region ventral to the third somite. These cells then migrate toward the axial midline and fuse together. The pronephric primordia are wt1-expressing cells located next to the interrenal. They also migrate to the axial midline and fuse to become glomeruli at later developmental stages. Our gene knockdown experiments indicate that wt1 is required for its initial restricted expression in pronephric primordia, pronephric cell migration and fusion. wt1 also appears to be involved in interrenal development and ff1b expression. Similarly, ff1b is required for interrenal differentiation and activation of the differentiated gene, cyp11a1. Our results show that the zebrafish interrenal and pronephros are situated close together and go through parallel developmental processes but are governed by different signaling events.