Requirement of the MASH-1 transcription factor for neuroendocrine differentiation of thyroid C cells

J Neurobiol. 1998 Feb 5;34(2):126-34.


Thyroid C cells are neural crest-derived neuroendocrine cells that can acquire features similar to serotonergic neurons. Based on developmental and phenotypic markers, we have previously proposed that C cells and serotonergic enteric neurons arise from a common sympathoadrenal progenitor. In this report, we genetically examined this relationship using mice lacking the mammalian achaete-scute homologue 1 (MASH-1) transcription factor, since MASH-1 has recently been shown to be required for differentiation of serotonergic enteric neurons. We found that MASH-1 knockout mice have a greatly reduced number of C cells based on the lack of calcitonin and serotonin immunoreactivity. In contrast, calcitonin and serotonin were still expressed in cultured mature C cells that no longer express MASH-1, demonstrating that MASH-1 is not directly required for the expression of these two markers. Hence, MASH-1 is required to establish the C-cell phenotype and supports the model that C cells lie in the neuronal differentiation pathway of the sympathoadrenal neural crest.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Calcitonin / analysis
  • Calcitonin / biosynthesis
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neural Crest / cytology
  • Neural Crest / drug effects
  • Neural Crest / embryology
  • Neurosecretory Systems / cytology*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / embryology
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Serotonin / biosynthesis
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Thyroid Gland / cytology*
  • Thyroid Gland / embryology
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*


  • Ascl1 protein, mouse
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Serotonin
  • Calcitonin