Expression of c-ret in the zebrafish embryo: potential roles in motoneuronal development

J Neurobiol. 1997 Nov 20;33(6):749-68.


We have isolated and characterized the zebrafish ortholog of c-ret, a gene essential for renal organogenesis and enteric nervous system development in mammals. During zebrafish embryogenesis c-ret transcripts are expressed in a number of tissues including spinal motoneurons, pronephric ducts, cranial ganglia, pharyngeal arches, and the enteric nervous system. We have examined in detail the expression of c-ret during the development of identified spinal primary motoneurons. c-ret expression is regulated in a cell type-specific manner among the three primary motoneurons. c-ret is expressed at its highest levels in caudal primary (CaP) motoneurons and transcripts can be detected shortly before the expression of the CaP-specific gene, islet2. We suggest that c-ret may play a role in specifying CaP cell identity. c-ret is expressed at low levels in the other primary motoneurons and also in a subset of secondary motoneurons, suggesting that it may also play a broader role in motoneuronal survival or maintenance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Brain / physiology
  • Branchial Region / embryology
  • Branchial Region / physiology
  • DNA / isolation & purification
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Enteric Nervous System / embryology
  • Enteric Nervous System / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • RNA / isolation & purification
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Zebrafish
  • Zebrafish Proteins


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Ret protein, Drosophila
  • Ret protein, zebrafish