Author(s): Young HM, Ciampoli D, Hsuan J, Canty AJ
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Abstract Cells of the enteric nervous system are derived from the neural crest. Probes to a number of molecules identify neural crest-derived cells within the gastrointestinal tract of embryonic mice prior to their differentiation into neurons and glial cells. However, it is unclear whether the different markers are identifying all neural crest-derived cells. In this study the distribution of p75(NTR)-immunoreactivity was compared with that of Ret-, Phox2a-, Phox2b-, and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in undifferentiated neural crest-derived cells in the E10.5-E13.5 mouse intestine. Neural crest-derived cells colonise the embryonic mouse gut in a rostral-to-caudal wave between E9.5-E14, and differentiation into enteric neurons also occurs in a rostral-to-caudal wave. Thus, the most caudal neural crest-derived cells within the gut are undifferentiated. These most caudal neural crest-derived cells co-expressed p75(NTR)-, Phox2b- and Ret-immunoreactivity; at E10.5 a sub-population was also TH-positive. The most caudal cells did not show Phox2a-immunoreactivity at any stage. However, a sub-population of cells, which was rostral to the undifferentiated neural crest-derived cells, was Phox2a-positive, and these are likely to be cells beginning to differentiate along a neuronal lineage. The expression of Ret-, Phox2a-, Phox2b- and p75(NTR)-immunoreactivity by two classes of enteric neurons that differentiate prior to birth was also examined. Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) neurons showed Phox2b and Ret immunoreactivity at all ages, and Phox2a and p75(NTR) immunoreactivity only transiently. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) neurons showed Phox2b and Ret-immunoreactivity, but not Phox2a immunoreactivity. It is concluded that all undifferentiated neural crest-derived cells initially express Phox2b, Ret, and p75(NTR); a sub-population of these cells also expresses TH transiently. Those cells that are beginning to differentiate along a neuronal lineage maintain their expression of Phox2b and Ret, and they start to express Phox2a, but down-regulate p75(NTR); those cells that differentiate along a glial lineage down-regulate Ret and maintain their expression of p75(NTR). Dev Dyn 1999;216:137-152. Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
This article was published in Dev Dyn
and referenced in Journal of Cell Science & Therapy