Taylor, C.R., Montagne, W.A., Eisen, J.S., Ganz, J. (2016) Molecular fingerprinting delineates progenitor populations in the developing zebrafish enteric nervous system. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 245(11):1081-1096.
Background To understand the basis of nervous system development, we must learn how multipotent progenitors generate diverse neuronal and glial lineages. We addressed this issue in the zebrafish enteric nervous system (ENS), a complex neuronal and glial network that regulates essential intestinal functions. Little is currently known about how ENS progenitor subpopulations generate enteric neuronal and glial diversity. Results We identified temporally and spatially dependent progenitor subpopulations based on coexpression of three genes essential for normal ENS development: phox2bb, sox10, and ret. Our data suggest that combinatorial expression of these genes delineates three major ENS progenitor subpopulations, (1) phox2bb+/ret-/sox10-, (2) phox2bb+/ret+/sox10-, and (3) phox2bb+/ret+/sox10+, that reflect temporal progression of progenitor maturation during migration. We also found that differentiating zebrafish neurons maintain phox2bb and ret expression, and lose sox10 expression. Conclusion Our data show that zebrafish enteric progenitors constitute a heterogeneous population at both early and late stages of ENS development and suggest that marker gene expression is indicative of a progenitor's fate. We propose that a progenitor's expression profile reveals its developmental state: "younger" wave front progenitors express all three genes, whereas more mature progenitors behind the wave front selectively lose sox10 and/or ret expression, which may indicate developmental restriction. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.