The receptor tyrosine kinase ret protooncogene (RET) is implicated in the pathogenesis of several diseases and in several developmental defects, particularly those in neural crest–derived structures and the genitourinary system. In order to further elucidate RET-mediated mechanisms that contribute to these diseases and decipher the basis for specificity in the pleiotropic effects of RET, we characterized development of the enteric and autonomic nervous systems in mice expressing RET9 or RET51 isoforms harboring mutations in tyrosine residues that act as docking sites for the adaptors Plcγ, Src, Shc, and Grb2. Using this approach, we found that development of the genitourinary system and the enteric and autonomic nervous systems is dependent on distinct RET-stimulated signaling pathways. Thus, mutation of RET51 at Y1062, a docking site for multiple adaptor proteins including Shc, caused distal colon aganglionosis reminiscent of Hirschsprung disease (HSCR). On the other hand, this mutation in RET9, which encodes an isoform that lacks the Grb2 docking site present in RET51, produced severe abnormalities in multiple organs. Mutations that abrogate RET-Plcγ binding, previously shown to produce features reminiscent of congenital anomalies of kidneys or urinary tract (CAKUT) syndrome, produced only minor abnormalities in the nervous system. Abrogating RET51-Src binding produced no major defects in these systems. These studies provide insight into the basis of organotypic specificity and redundancy in RET signaling within these unique systems and in diseases such as HSCR and CAKUT.


Sanjay Jain, Amanda Knoten, Masato Hoshi, Hongtao Wang, Bhupinder Vohra, Robert O. Heuckeroth, Jeffrey Milbrandt


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