Phenotype variation in two-locus mouse models of Hirschsprung disease: tissue-specific interaction between Ret and Ednrb

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Feb 18;100(4):1826-31. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0337540100. Epub 2003 Feb 6.


Clinical expression of Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) requires the interaction of multiple susceptibility genes. Molecular genetic analyses have revealed that interactions between mutations in the genes encoding the RET receptor tyrosine kinase and the endothelin receptor type B (EDNRB) are central to the genesis of HSCR. We have established two locus noncomplementation assays in mice, using allelic series at Ednrb in the context of Ret kinase-null heterozygotes, to understand the clinical presentation, incomplete penetrance, variation in length of aganglionic segment, and sex bias observed in human HSCR patients. Titration of Ednrb in the presence of half the genetic dose of Ret determines the presentation of an enteric phenotype in these strains, revealing or abrogating a sex bias in disease expression depending on the genotype at Ednrb. RET and EDNRB signaling pathways are also critical for the normal development of other tissues, including the kidneys and neural crest-derived melanocytes. Our data demonstrate that interaction between these genes is restricted to the enteric nervous system and does not affect renal, coat color, and retinal choroid development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Female
  • Heterozygote
  • Hirschsprung Disease / genetics*
  • Hirschsprung Disease / physiopathology
  • Kidney / embryology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor, Endothelin B
  • Receptors, Endothelin / genetics*
  • Receptors, Endothelin / metabolism
  • Sex Factors
  • Signal Transduction


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptor, Endothelin B
  • Receptors, Endothelin
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Ret protein, Drosophila
  • Ret protein, mouse