Endothelin receptor B and neural crest derived melanocyte development

Avner Ittah, Florida International University


Neural Crest cells (NCC) constitute a unique embryonic cell population that arises between the prospective epidermis and the dorsal aspect of the neural tube of vertebrates. NCC migrate ventromedially and dorsolaterally throughout the developing embryo giving rise to the peripheral nervous system constituents and melanocytes that ultimately reside in the skin and hair follicles respectively. Mice and humans with mutations in the Endothelin receptor b (Ednrb) gene manifest strikingly similar phenotypes characterized by hypopigmentation, hearing loss and megacolon these are due to absence of melanocytes in the skin and inner ear and lack of enteric ganglia in the distal part of the gut, respectively. Piebald lethal mice and humans with Hirschsprung's disease or Waardenburg syndrome carry different mutations in the Ednrb gene. The major goals of this project were to determine whether the action of Ednrb in NCC is required prior to commitment of these cells to the melanocytic lineage and to investigate its potential participation in the actual process of commitment. In order to achieve these goals transgenic mice that express Ednrb under two different regulatory elements were created. The first, Dct-Ednrb, expresses Ednrb under the control of the DOPAchrome tautomerase (Dct) promoter to direct expression to already committed melanocyte precursors. The second, Nes-Ednrb, expresses Ednrb under the regulation of the human nestin gene second enhancer to direct expression to pre-migratory NCC. Crosses of the Dct-Ednrb mouse with piebald lethal showed that the transgene was capable of rescuing the hypopigmentation phenotype of the later. This result indicates that the action of Ednrb after NCC commit to the melanocytic lineage is sufficient for normal melanocyte development. The Dct-Ednrb was further crossed with two other hypopigmentation mutants that carry mutations in the transcription factors Sox10 and Pax3. The transgene rescued the phenotype of the Sox10 mutant only. This suggests that Ednrb interacts with Sox10 but not with Pax3 during melanocyte development. The Nes-Ednrb mice developed a hypopigmentation phenotype that was augmented when crossed with piebald lethal or lethal spotting (mutation in Edn3, the ligand for Ednrb) mice but was rescued by over expression of Edn3. These results suggest that alterations in Ednrb expression early in development affect melanocyte development. This study provides novel information necessary to better understand the early embryonic development of NCC, clarifies specific interactions between different melanogenic genes and, could eventually help in the implementation of therapies for human pigmentary genetic disorders.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Anatomy & physiology|Animals

Recommended Citation

Ittah, Avner, "Endothelin receptor B and neural crest derived melanocyte development" (2005). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3217573.