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The gastrointestinal development 'parts list': transcript profiling of embryonic gut development in wildtype and Ret-deficient mice
The development of the gut from endodermal tissue to an organ with multiple distinct structures and functions occurs over a prolonged time during embryonic days E10.5-E14.5 in the mouse. During this process, one major event is innervation of the gut by enteric neural crest cells (ENCC) to establish the enteric nervous system (ENS). To understand the molecular processes underpinning gut and ENS development, we generated RNA-seq profiles from wildtype mouse guts at E10.5, E12.5 and E14.5 from both sexes. We also generated these profiles from homozygous Ret null embryos, a model for Hirschsprung disease (HSCR), in whom the ENS is absent. These data reveal four major features: (1) between E10.5 to E14.5 the developmental genetic programs change from expression of major transcription factors (TF) and its modifiers to genes controlling tissue (epithelium, muscle, endothelium) specialization; (2) the major effect of Ret is not only on ENCC differentiation to enteric neurons but also on the enteric mesenchyme and epithelium; (3) a muscle genetic program exerts significant effects on ENS development, and (4) sex differences in gut development profiles are minor. The genetic programs identified, and their changes across development, suggests that both cell autonomous and non-autonomous factors, and interactions between the different developing gut tissues, are important for normal ENS development and its disorders.
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