Bisgrove, B.W., Raible, D.W., Walter, V., Eisen, J.S., and Grunwald, D.J. (1997) Expression of c-ret in the zebrafish embryo: potential roles in motoneuronal development. Journal of neurobiology. 33(6):749-768.
We have isolated and characterized the zebrafish ortholog of c-ret, a gene essential for renal organogenesis and enteric nervous system development in mammals. During zebrafish embryogenesis c-ret transcripts are expressed in a number of tissues including spinal motoneurons, pronephric ducts, cranial ganglia, pharyngeal arches, and the enteric nervous system. We have examined in detail the expression of c-ret during the development of identified spinal primary motoneurons. c-ret expression is regulated in a cell type-specific manner among the three primary motoneurons. c-ret is expressed at its highest levels in caudal primary (CaP) motoneurons and transcripts can be detected shortly before the expression of the CaP-specific gene, islet2. We suggest that c-ret may play a role in specifying CaP cell identity. c-ret is expressed at low levels in the other primary motoneurons and also in a subset of secondary motoneurons, suggesting that it may also play a broader role in motoneuronal survival or maintenance.