Full wired: Planar cell polarity genes guide gut neurons

March 8, 2013

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

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy

July 24, 2017
A new way of producing the seasonal flu vaccine could speed up the process and provide better protection against infection.

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

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.