Full wired: Planar cell polarity genes guide gut neurons

March 8, 2013, Journal of Clinical Investigation

The enteric nervous system (ENS), the "little brain" that resides within the gut wall, governs motility, secretion, and blood flow in the human gastrointestinal tract. Failure of the ENS to develop normally leads to congenital megacolon (Hirschsprung Disease) while loss of normal gut innervation is thought to contribute to debilitating motility disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome. In order to prevent and treat these conditions, it is necessary to understand the molecular mechanisms that control the formation and function of the ENS.

In this issue of the , Vassilis Pachnis and colleagues at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research in London found that the planar cell polarity (PCP) genes, Celsr3 and Fzd3 are required for the formation of the complex neural networks within the guts of mice. Inactivation of these genes resulted in disorganization of neuronal projections, slower gut transit time and abnormal colonic motility, indicating for the first time that improper ENS wiring contributes to gastrointestinal motility disorders.

Future studies will be required to determine if mutations or dysfunction of these genes contributes to human gut motility disorders.

Explore further: A gut feeling about neural stem cells

More information: Planar cell polarity genes control the connectivity of enteric neurons, J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI66759

Related Stories

A gut feeling about neural stem cells

February 1, 2013
Proper function of the digestive system requires coordinated contraction of the muscle in the wall of the intestinal tract, regulated by the enteric nervous system. Damage or loss of these neurons can result in intestinal ...

The antibiotic, amoxicillin-clavulanate, before a meal may improve small bowel motility

April 30, 2012
The common antibiotic, amoxicillin-clavulanate, may improve small bowel function in children experiencing motility disturbances, according to a study appearing in the June print edition of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology ...

Mitochondrial respiratory capacity, sperm motility linked

April 10, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Sperm with higher motility have increased mitochondrial respiratory capacity, according to a study published in the April issue of Urology.

Recommended for you

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.