[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hirschsprung's disease (HSCR) is a congenital disorder characterised by the absence of ganglia along variable lengths of the intestine. The RET gene is the major HSCR gene. Reduced penetrance of RET mutations and phenotypic variability suggest the involvement of additional modifying genes in the disease. A RET-dependent modifier locus was mapped to 9q31 in families bearing no coding sequence (CDS) RET mutations. Yet, the 9q31 causative locus is to be identified. To fine-map the 9q31 region, we genotyped 301 tag-SNPs spanning 7 Mb on 137 HSCR Dutch trios. This revealed two HSCR-associated regions that were further investigated in 173 Chinese HSCR patients and 436 controls using the genotype data obtained from a genome-wide association study recently conducted. Within one of the two identified regions SVEP1 SNPs were found associated with Dutch HSCR patients in the absence of RET mutations. This ratifies the reported linkage to the 9q31 region in HSCR families with no RET CDS mutations. However, this finding could not be replicated. In Chinese, HSCR was found associated with IKBKAP. In contrast, this association was stronger in patients carrying RET CDS mutations with p = 5.10 x 10(-6) [OR = 3.32 (1.99, 5.59)] after replication. The HSCR-association found for IKBKAP in Chinese suggests population specificity and implies that RET mutation carriers may have an additional risk. Our finding is supported by the role of IKBKAP in the development of the nervous system.
Human Genetics 04/2010; 127(6):675-83. · 4.63 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The enteric nervous system (ENS) controls intestinal peristalsis, and defective development of this system results in hypo/aganglionosis, as seen in Hirschsprung's disease. In the embryo, vagal neural crest cells (NCC) migrate and colonize the intestine rostrocaudally then differentiate into the ganglia of the ENS. Vagal NCC express the homeobox gene Hoxb5, a transcriptional activator, in human and mouse, so we used transgenic mice to investigate the function of Hoxb5 and the receptor tyrosine kinase gene Ret, which is affected in many patients with Hirschsprung's disease, in ENS development.
We perturbed the Hoxb5 pathway by expressing a chimeric protein enb5, in which the transcription activation domain of Hoxb5 was replaced with the repressor domain of the Drosophila engrailed protein (en), in vagal NCC. This enb5 transcriptional repressor competes with wild-type Hoxb5 for binding to target genes, exerting a dominant negative effect.
We observed that 30.6% +/- 2.3% of NCC expressed enb5 and that these enb5-expressing NCC failed to migrate to the distal intestine. A 34%-37% reduction of ganglia (hypoganglionosis) and slow peristalsis and, occasionally, absence of ganglia and intestinal obstruction were observed in enb5-expressing mice. Ret expression was markedly reduced or absent in NCC and ganglia, and enb5 blocked Hoxb5 induction of Ret in neuroblastoma cells.
Our data indicate that Ret is a downstream target of Hoxb5 whose perturbation causes Ret haploinsufficiency, impaired NCC migration, and hypo/aganglionosis, suggesting that Hoxb5 may contribute to the etiology of Hirschsprung's disease.