Effects of different regions of the developing gut on the migration of enteric neural crest-derived cells: A role for Sema3A, but not Sema3F Academic Article uri icon


  • The enteric nervous system arises from vagal (caudal hindbrain) and sacral level neural crest-derived cells that migrate into and along the developing gut. Data from previous studies have suggested that (i) there may be gradients along the gut that induce the caudally directed migration of vagal enteric neural precursors (ENPs), (ii) exposure to the caecum might alter the migratory ability of vagal ENPs and (iii) Sema3A might regulate the entry into the hindgut of ENPs derived from sacral neural crest. Using co-cultures we show that there is no detectable gradient of chemoattractive molecules along the pre-caecal gut that specifically promotes the caudally directed migration of vagal ENPs, although vagal ENPs migrate faster caudally than rostrally along explants of hindgut. Exposure to the caecum did not alter the rate at which ENPs colonized explants of hindgut, but it did alter the ability of ENPs to colonize the midgut. The co-cultures also revealed that there is localized expression of a repulsive cue in the distal hindgut, which might delay the entry of sacral ENPs. We show that Sema3A is expressed by the hindgut mesenchyme and its receptor, neuropilin-1, is expressed by migrating ENPs. Furthermore, there is premature entry of sacral ENPs and extrinsic axons into the distal hindgut of fetal mice lacking Sema3A. These data show that Sema3A expressed by the distal hindgut regulates the entry of sacral ENPs and extrinsic axons into the hindgut. ENPs did not express neuropilin-2 and there was no detectable change in the timetable by which ENPs colonize the gut in mice lacking neuropilin-2.


  • Anderson, RB
  • Bergner, AJ
  • Taniguchi, M
  • Fujisawa, H
  • Forrai, A
  • Robb, L
  • Young, HM

publication date

  • May 2007