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Neuron. 2003 Dec 4;40(5):905-16.

Enteric nervous system progenitors are coordinately controlled by the G protein-coupled receptor EDNRB and the receptor tyrosine kinase RET.

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Division of Molecular Neurobiology, MRC National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, United Kingdom.


The enteric nervous system (ENS) in vertebrates is derived mainly from vagal neural crest cells that enter the foregut and colonize the entire wall of the gastrointestinal tract. Failure to completely colonize the gut results in the absence of enteric ganglia (Hirschsprung's disease). Two signaling systems mediated by RET and EDNRB have been identified as critical players in enteric neurogenesis. We demonstrate that interaction between these signaling pathways controls ENS development throughout the intestine. Activation of EDNRB specifically enhances the effect of RET signaling on the proliferation of uncommitted ENS progenitors. In addition, we reveal novel antagonistic roles of these pathways on the migration of ENS progenitors. Protein kinase A is a key component of the molecular mechanisms that integrate signaling by the two receptors. Our data provide strong evidence that the coordinate and balanced interaction between receptor tyrosine kinases and G protein-coupled receptors controls the development of the nervous system in mammals.

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