Endothelin B receptor deficient transgenic rescue rats: a rescue phenomenon in the brain

Neuroscience. 2004;124(4):719-23. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2003.10.023.


Homozygous endothelin B receptor deficiency leads to congenital aganglionosis of the gut in rats and mice, equivalent to human Hirschsprung disease. Homozygous endothelin B receptor deficient rats (spotting lethal rats, sl/sl) are characterized not only by this developmental disorder of the enteric nervous system, which limits their life span to 3-4 weeks, but exhibit an increased rate of apoptosis in the dentate gyrus compared to wildtype (+/+) rats. Recently, endothelin B receptor deficient transgenic rescue rats (sl/sl, tg/tg) were created to further investigate the role of the endothelin B receptor in mature animals. Linkage of the human dopamine-beta-hydroxylase promoter to the rat endothelin B receptor gene and expression of this transgenic construct results in normal development of the enteric nervous system. We investigated the expression pattern of this transgenic construct in the brain by using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Unexpectedly, transgene mRNA expression was not restricted to the brain stem where adrenergic and noradrenergic nuclei are known to be present but, in addition, was also detectable in hippocampus and cortex. Using in situ tailing technique, cleaved caspase-3 immunohistochemistry and analysis of hematoxylin-eosin-stained serial sections, we found that all studied transgenic animals were rescued from the increased rate of apoptosis in the dentate gyrus characteristic for non-transgenic sl/sl rats. This finding supports our previous observation that the endothelin B receptor might be an important regulatory element supporting cellular survival in the hippocampus during postnatal development. The endothelin B receptor deficient transgenic rescue rats used here are rescued from developmental disorders both in the gut and in the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Apoptosis
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Stem / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Dentate Gyrus / physiopathology
  • Enteric Nervous System / growth & development
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Hirschsprung Disease / etiology
  • Hirschsprung Disease / therapy
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Mutant Strains
  • Receptor, Endothelin B / deficiency*
  • Receptor, Endothelin B / genetics*
  • Salvage Therapy*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transgenes*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, Endothelin B