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Gene Expr. 2002;10(5-6):279-93.

Transcripts encoding HAND genes are differentially expressed and regulated by BMP4 and GDNF in developing avian gut.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, 3000 Arlington Ave., OH 43614, USA.


Growth and transcription factors provide important developmental cues to neural crest-derived precursors of enteric neurons. The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors, HAND2 and HAND1, are expressed in the gastrointestinal tract, but neither the growth factors that induce their expression nor the cell types that express them in the gut are known. We show that transcripts encoding HAND2 are expressed in all segments of the developing gut while those encoding HAND1 are confined to the small intestine and colon. Using in situ hybridization combined with immunostaining using cell type-specific antigens, we demonstrate that transcripts encoding HAND2 are expressed in neurons of both the myenteric and submucosal ganglia. Transcripts encoding HAND1 are expressed by cells in the epithelial lining of the small intestine and colon. The differential localization of HAND2 and HAND1 is reflected in nonoverlapping patterns of regulation by gut-derived factors. The expression of transcripts encoding HAND2 is increased in neural crest-derived cells when cocultured with E4 gut, suggesting a gut-derived factor regulates expression of HAND genes. Exposure of gut-derived neural crest-derived cells to BMP4 significantly increased the expression of HAND2 in all gut segments. In the esophagus and gizzard, where HAND1 is not normally expressed, treatment with BMP4 induced the expression of transcripts encoding HAND1 in nonneural crest-derived cells. GDNF failed to induce consistent expression of transcripts encoding HAND2 in neural crest cells but did support a modest increase in HAND2 expression in gut-derived crest cells obtained from the esophagus and colon. GDNF had no detectable effect on the expression of transcripts encoding HAND1. These results suggest; 1) that HAND2 has a function in the development of enteric neurons, and 2) that BMP and GDNF differentially regulate HAND2 and HAND1 gene expression in the developing gastrointestinal tract.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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