The division of the embryonic cloaca is the most essential event for the formation of digestive and urinary tracts. The defective development of the cloaca results in anorectal malformations (ARMs; 2-5 per 10,000 live births). However, the developmental and pathogenic mechanisms of ARMs are unclear. In the current study, we visualized the epithelia in the developing cloaca and nephric ducts (NDs). Systemic stereoscopic analyses revealed that the ND-cloaca connection sites shifted from the lateral-middle to dorsal-anterior part of the cloaca during cloacal division from E10.5 to E11.5 in mouse embryos. Genetic cell labeling analyses revealed that the cells in the ventral cloacal epithelium in the early stages rarely contributed to the dorsal part. Moreover, we revealed the possible morphogenetic movement of endodermal cells within the anterior part of the urogenital sinus and hindgut. These results provide the basis for understanding both cloacal development and the ARM pathogenesis.
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