The nerve growth factor receptor gene is expressed in both neuronal and non-neuronal tissues in the human fetus.
ABSTRACT In situ hybridization was used to study expression of beta-nerve growth factor receptor (NGF-R) mRNA in the early human fetus. In 8- to 12-week old fetuses, high labelling was found over motoneurons along the entire length of the lateral motor column. High levels of NGF-R mRNA were also seen over most developing nerve cell bodies in both the dorsomedial and ventrolateral part of the dorsal root ganglia. Lower, but clearly specific labelling was detected over a subpopulation of cells in Auerbach's plexus in the intestines. Evidence for a non-neuronal expression of NGF-R mRNA came from labelling over a subpopulation of cells in glomeruli of the kidney in a 12-week old human embryo. Myoblasts in skeletal muscle anlagen were labelled as well as cells along peripheral nerve. The widespread expression of NGF-R mRNA in the human fetus suggests that the NGF-R is important for development of a variety of different tissues of both neuronal and non-neuronal origin.