Enteric nervous system progenitors are coordinately controlled by the G protein-coupled receptor EDNRB and the receptor tyrosine kinase RET

Neuron. 2003 Dec 4;40(5):905-16. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00730-x.


The enteric nervous system (ENS) in vertebrates is derived mainly from vagal neural crest cells that enter the foregut and colonize the entire wall of the gastrointestinal tract. Failure to completely colonize the gut results in the absence of enteric ganglia (Hirschsprung's disease). Two signaling systems mediated by RET and EDNRB have been identified as critical players in enteric neurogenesis. We demonstrate that interaction between these signaling pathways controls ENS development throughout the intestine. Activation of EDNRB specifically enhances the effect of RET signaling on the proliferation of uncommitted ENS progenitors. In addition, we reveal novel antagonistic roles of these pathways on the migration of ENS progenitors. Protein kinase A is a key component of the molecular mechanisms that integrate signaling by the two receptors. Our data provide strong evidence that the coordinate and balanced interaction between receptor tyrosine kinases and G protein-coupled receptors controls the development of the nervous system in mammals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Enteric Nervous System / cytology*
  • Enteric Nervous System / embryology
  • Enteric Nervous System / metabolism
  • Enteric Nervous System / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology*
  • Receptor, Endothelin B / biosynthesis
  • Receptor, Endothelin B / genetics
  • Receptor, Endothelin B / physiology*
  • Receptors, Endothelin / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Endothelin / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / physiology*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptor, Endothelin B
  • Receptors, Endothelin
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • endothelin-3 receptor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Ret protein, mouse