Transgenic rescue of aganglionosis and piebaldism in lethal spotted mice

Julie Rice, Barbara Doggett, David A. Sweetser, Hiromi Yanagisawa, Masashi Yanagisawa, Raj P. Kapur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Complete colonization of the gut by enteric neural precursors depends on activation of ednrB and Ret receptors by their respective ligands, edn3 and gdnf. Mutations that eliminate expression of either ligand or either receptor produce intestinal aganglionosis in rodents and humans. Embryos homozygous for the lethal spotted (ls) allele, a loss of function mutation in the edn3 gene, have no ganglion cells in their terminal large intestines and are spotted, due to incomplete colonization of the skin by melanocyte precursors. Expression of edn3 in enteric neural precursors of transgenic mice compensates fully for deficient endogenous edn3 in ls/ls embryos. The effects of the edn3 transgene are dose-dependent, as lower levels of expression in one line prevent aganglionosis in only a subset of animals and reduce, but fail to eliminate, piebaldism. In contrast, expression of neither constitutively active Ret nor activated ras in enteric neural progenitors alters the severity of aganglionosis or piebaldism in ls/ls mice. Given the spatial and temporal pattern of edn3-transgene expression, our results suggest that edn3/ednrB signals are not required prior to the arrival of crest cells in the gut and endrB stimulation elicits distinct cellular responses from Ret or ras activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-132
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


  • Dopamine-β-hydroxylase
  • Hirschsprung disease
  • Neural crest migration
  • Piebald lethal
  • Signal transduction
  • Spotting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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