[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Almost 1% of human infants are born with urogenital abnormalities, many of which are linked to irregular connections between the distal ureters and the bladder. During development, ureters migrate by an unknown mechanism from their initial integration site in the Wolffian ducts up to the base of the bladder in a process that we call ureter maturation. Rara(-/-) Rarb2(-/-) mice display impaired vitamin A signaling and develop syndromic urogenital malformations similar to those that occur in humans, including renal hypoplasia, hydronephrosis and mega-ureter, abnormalities also seen in mice with mutations in the proto-oncogene Ret. Here we show that ureter maturation depends on formation of the 'trigonal wedge', a newly identified epithelial outgrowth from the base of the Wolffian ducts, and that the distal ureter abnormalities seen in Rara(-/-) Rarb2(-/-) and Ret(-/-) mutant mice are probably caused by a failure of this process. Our studies indicate that formation of the trigonal wedge may be essential for correct insertion of the distal ureters into the bladder, and that these events are mediated by the vitamin A and Ret signaling pathways.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brain stem muscarinic cholinergic pathways are important in respiratory carbon dioxide (CO2) chemosensitivity. Defects in the muscarinic system have been reported in children with congenital/developmental disorders of respiratory control such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS). This early onset of disease suggests a possible genetic basis. The muscarinic system is part of the autonomic nervous system which develops from the neural crest. Ret proto-oncogene is important for this development. Thus, a potential role for ret in the development of respiratory CO2 chemosensitivity was considered. Using plethysmography, we assessed the ventilatory response to inhaled CO2 in the unanesthetized offsprings of ret +/- mice. Fractional increases in minute ventilation during hypercapnia relative to isocapnia were 5.1 +/- 3.2, 3.0 +/- 1.6 and 1.4 +/- 0.8 for the ret +/+, ret +/- and ret +/- mice, respectively. The ret knockout mice have a depressed ventilatory response to inhaled CO2. Therefore, the ret gene is an important factor in the pathway of neuronal development which allow respiratory CO2 chemosensitivity.
Journal of the Autonomic Nervous System 05/1997; 63(3):137-43.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Extracellular matrix molecules, including laminin, affect the development of enteric neurons and accumulate in the aganglionic colon of ls/ls mice. Quantitative Northern analysis revealed that mRNAs encoding the beta 1 and gamma 1 subunits of laminin and collagens alpha 1(IV) and alpha 2(IV) are increased in the colons of ls/ls mice. Transcripts of laminin alpha 1 were evaluated quantitatively with reverse transcription and the competitive polymerase chain reaction (RT-cPCR). The abundance of laminin alpha 1 transcripts was developmentally regulated, but greater in the ls/ls than the wild-type colon at each age examined. In situ hybridization revealed that transcripts in the colon encoding laminin alpha 1 and beta 1 and collagen alpha 2(IV) were initially expressed in the endoderm, but by E15, expression shifted to cells of the colonic mesenchyme (ls/ls > wild type) where crest-derived cells migrate. The expression of laminin alpha 1 was examined in the totally aganglionic intestine of E15 and newborn c-ret -/- mice, to determine whether an increase occurs when neurogenesis fails independently of the ls/ls defect. RT-cPCR revealed no difference from control in mRNA encoding laminin alpha 1 in the c-ret -/- colon in either E15 or newborn animals. The accumulation of immunohistochemically demonstrable laminin that is prominent in the newborn ls/ls colon could not be detected in that of c-ret -/- animals. These observations suggest that transcripts encoding laminin-1 and collagen (IV) are increased in the colon and surrounding pelvic mesenchyme of ls/ls mice because of an intrinsic lesion, rather than a secondary consequence of aganglionosis. The data are compatible with the hypothesis that the increased expression of laminin-1 contributes to the failure of crest-derived cells to complete their colonization of the ls/ls colon.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The c-ret gene encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase that is expressed in the Wolffian duct and ureteric bud of the developing excretory system. Newborn mice homozygous for a mutation in c-ret displayed renal agenesis or severe hypodysplasia, suggesting a critical role for this gene in metanephric kidney development. To investigate the embryological basis of these defects, we characterized the early development of the excretory system in mutant homozygotes, and observed a range of defects in the formation, growth and branching of the ureteric bud, which account for the spectrum of renal defects seen at birth. Co-culture of isolated ureteric buds and metanephric mesenchyme show that the primary defect is intrinsic to the ureteric bud. While the mutant bud failed to respond to induction by wild-type mesenchyme, mutant mesenchyme was competent to induce the growth and branching of the wild-type bud. Furthermore, the mutant metanephric mesenchyme displayed a normal capacity to differentiate into nephric tubules when co-cultured with embryonic spinal cord. These findings suggest a model in which c-ret encodes the receptor for a (yet to be identified) factor produced by the metanephric mesenchyme, which mediates the inductive effects of this tissue upon the ureteric bud. This factor appears to stimulate the initial evagination of the ureteric bud from the Wolffian duct, as well as its subsequent growth and branching.
Development 07/1996; 122(6):1919-29. · 6.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: c-ret encodes a tyrosine kinase receptor that is necessary for normal development of the mammalian enteric nervous system. Germline mutations in c-ret lead to congenital megacolon in humans, while a loss-of-function allele (ret.k-) causes intestinal aganglionosis in mice. Here we examine in detail the function of c-ret during neurogenesis, as well as the lineage relationships among cell populations in the enteric nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system that are dependent on c-ret function. We report that, while the intestine of newborn ret.k- mice is devoid of enteric ganglia, the esophagus and stomach are only partially affected; furthermore, the superior cervical ganglion is absent, while more posterior sympathetic ganglia and the adrenal medulla are unaffected. Analysis of mutant embryos shows that the superior cervical ganglion anlage is present at E10.5, but absent by E12.5, suggesting that c-ret is required for the survival or proliferation of sympathetic neuroblasts. In situ hybridization studies, as well as direct labelling of cells with DiI, indicate that a common pool of neural crest cells derived from the postotic hindbrain normally gives rise to most of the enteric nervous system and the superior cervical ganglion, and is uniquely dependent on c-ret function for normal development. We term this the sympathoenteric lineage. In contrast, a distinct sympathoadrenal lineage derived from trunk neural crest forms the more posterior sympathetic ganglia, and also contributes to the foregut enteric nervous system. Overall, our studies reveal previously unknown complexities of cell lineage and genetic control mechanisms in the developing mammalian peripheral nervous system.
Development 02/1996; 122(1):349-58. · 6.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Receptor tyrosine kinases play a critical role in transducing signals involved in cell growth and differentiation. The c-ret proto-oncogene is a member of the receptor tyrosine kinase gene superfamily originally identified by its transforming ability. Somatic mutations of c-ret are responsible for a large proportion of thyroid papillary carcinomas, while germ-line mutations are responsible for multiple endocrine neoplasia types 2A and 2B, dominantly inherited cancer syndromes characterized by multiple tumours of neuroectodermal origin. In addition to its role in tumour formation. c-ret is thought to have a developmental role since mutations of the gene have been implicated in the aetiology of Hirschsprung's syndrome (congenital megacolon). A targeted mutation in the murine c-ret locus shows that the ret receptor is required for normal development of two lineally unrelated systems, the excretory system and the enteric nervous system.
Journal of Internal Medicine 11/1995; 238(4):327-32. · 5.79 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The c-ret proto-oncogene encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase that plays important roles in human disease and in normal mammalian development. Mutations in the human RET gene are associated with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndromes and Hirschsprung's disease in humans, while targeted mutagenesis of murine c-ret resulted in severe developmental abnormalities affecting the excretory and peripheral nervous systems. To examine the evolutionary conservation of the ret protein sequence and its developmental expression pattern, we isolated and sequenced cDNA clones of chicken c-ret and examined its expression in chick embryos and adult tissues. The cytoplasmic domains of chicken and human ret were relatively well conserved (91% similar), but the extracellular domains were more divergent (68% similar), although the conservation of cysteine residues in this region suggests a conserved secondary structure. As in mouse and human, chicken c-ret encodes two protein isoforms. The number and sizes of the transcripts were similar to those in human and mouse cells, and during chick embryogenesis, c-ret mRNA was observed in many of the same sites as in the mouse, including the Wolffian duct and ureteric bud, the enteric, dorsal root, sympathetic and facioacoustic ganglia, and the ventral spinal cord. Evolutionary differences in expression were observed in the trigeminal ganglion, the ventral roots of the spinal cord, the mesenchymal cells of the branchial arches and the adult testes. The results are discussed with regard to the role of the ret receptor in normal development and disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are cell-surface molecules that transduce signals for cell growth and differentiation. The RTK encoded by the c-ret proto-oncogene is rearranged and constitutively activated in a large proportion of thyroid papillary carcinomas, and germ-line point mutations in c-ret seem to be responsible for the dominantly inherited cancer syndromes multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) types 2A and B. The gene is expressed in the developing central and peripheral nervous systems (sensory, autonomic and enteric ganglia) and the excretory system (Wolffian duct and ureteric bud epithelium) of mice, indicating that it may play a role in normal development. Here we show that mice homozygous for a targeted mutation in c-ret develop to term, but die soon after birth, showing renal agenesis or severe dysgenesis, and lacking enteric neurons throughout the digestive tract. Ret is thus an essential component of a signalling pathway required for renal organogenesis and enteric neurogenesis.