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Hum Mol Genet. 2010 Nov 15;19(22):4353-72. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddq357. Epub 2010 Aug 25.

Genetic background impacts developmental potential of enteric neural crest-derived progenitors in the Sox10Dom model of Hirschsprung disease.

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Division of Genetic Medicine, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 2215 Garland Avenue, Nashville, TN 37232-0275, USA.


Abnormalities in the development of enteric neural crest-derived progenitors (ENPs) that generate the enteric nervous system (ENS) can lead to aganglionosis in a variable portion of the distal gastrointestinal tract. Cumulative evidence suggests that variation of aganglionosis is due to gene interactions that modulate the ability of ENPs to populate the intestine; however, the developmental processes underlying this effect are unknown. We hypothesized that differences in enteric ganglion deficits could be attributable to the effects of genetic background on early developmental processes, including migration, proliferation, or lineage divergence. Developmental processes were investigated in congenic Sox10(Dom) mice, an established Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) model, on distinct inbred backgrounds, C57BL/6J (B6) and C3HeB/FeJ (C3Fe). Immuno-staining on whole-mount fetal gut tissue and dissociated cell suspensions was used to assess migration and proliferation. Flow cytometry utilizing the cell surface markers p75 and HNK-1 was used to isolate live ENPs for analysis of developmental potential. Frequency of ENPs was reduced in Sox10(Dom) embryos relative to wild-type embryos, but was unaffected by genetic background. Both migration and developmental potential of ENPs in Sox10(Dom) embryos were altered by inbred strain background with the most highly significant differences seen for developmental potential between strains and genotypes. In vivo imaging of fetal ENPs and postnatal ganglia demonstrates that altered lineage divergence impacts ganglia in the proximal intestine. Our analysis demonstrates that genetic background alters early ENS development and suggests that abnormalities in lineage diversification can shift the proportions of ENP populations and thus may contribute to ENS deficiencies in vivo.

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