The migratory behavior of immature enteric neurons Academic Article uri icon


  • While they are migrating caudally along the developing gut, around 10%-20% of enteric neural crest-derived cells start to express pan-neuronal markers and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). We used explants of gut from embryonic TH-green fluorescence protein (GFP) mice and time-lapse microscopy to examine whether these immature enteric neurons migrate and their mode of migration. In the gut of E10.5 and E11.5 TH-GFP mice, around 50% of immature enteric neurons (GFP(+) cells) migrated, with an average speed of around 15 mum/h. This is slower than the speed at which the population of enteric neural crest-derived cells advances along the developing gut, and hence neuronal differentiation seems to slow, but not necessarily halt, the caudal migration of enteric neural crest cells. Most migrating immature enteric neurons migrated caudally by extending a long-leading process followed by translocation of the cell body. This mode of migration is different from that of non-neuronal enteric neural crest-derived cells and neural crest cells in other locations, but resembles that of migrating neurons in many regions of the developing central nervous system (CNS). In migrating immature enteric neurons, a swelling often preceded the movement of the nucleus in the direction of the leading process. However, the centrosomal marker, pericentrin, was not localized to either the leading process or swelling. This seems to be the first detailed report of neuronal migration in the developing mammalian peripheral nervous system.


publication date

  • January 2009