Genetic model system studies of the development of the enteric nervous system, gut motility and Hirschsprung's disease

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2009 Feb;21(2):113-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2008.01256.x.


The enteric nervous system (ENS) is the largest and most complicated subdivision of the peripheral nervous system. Its action is necessary to regulate many of the functions of the gastrointestinal tract including its motility. Whilst the ENS has been studied extensively by developmental biologists, neuroscientists and physiologists for several decades it has only been since the early 1990s that the molecular and genetic basis of ENS development has begun to emerge. Central to this understanding has been the use of genetic model organisms. In this article, we will discuss recent advances that have been achieved using both mouse and zebrafish model genetic systems that have led to new insights into ENS development and the genetic basis of Hirschsprung's disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Body Patterning
  • Enteric Nervous System* / embryology
  • Enteric Nervous System* / growth & development
  • Enteric Nervous System* / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract* / embryology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract* / growth & development
  • Gastrointestinal Tract* / physiology
  • Hirschsprung Disease / genetics*
  • Hirschsprung Disease / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Neural Crest / cytology
  • Neural Crest / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret