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Loss of Tbx3 in murine neural crest reduces enteric glia and causes cleft palate, but does not influence heart development or bowel transit

López, Silvia Huerta, Avetisyan, Marina, Wright, Christina M., Mesbah, Karim, Kelly, Robert G., Moon, Anne M., Heuckeroth, Robert O.
Developmental biology 2018 v.444 pp. S337
alleles, cleft palate, haploinsufficiency, heart, humans, mice, microarray technology, mutants, nerve fibers, neural crest, neuroglia, palate, small intestine, stomach, transcription factors
Transcription factors that coordinate migration, differentiation or proliferation of enteric nervous system (ENS) precursors are not well defined. To identify novel transcriptional regulators of ENS development, we performed microarray analysis at embryonic day (E) 17.5 and identified many genes that were enriched in the ENS compared to other bowel cells. We decided to investigate the T-box transcription factor Tbx3, which is prominently expressed in developing and mature ENS. Haploinsufficiency for TBX3 causes ulnar-mammary syndrome (UMS) in humans, a multi-organ system disorder. TBX3 also regulates several genes known to be important for ENS development. To test the hypothesis that Tbx3 is important for ENS development or function, we inactivated Tbx3 in all neural crest derivatives, including ENS progenitors using Wnt1-Cre and a floxed Tbx3 allele. Tbx3 fl/fl; Wnt1-Cre conditional mutant mice die shortly after birth with cleft palate and difficulty feeding. The ENS of mutants was well-organized with a normal density of enteric neurons and nerve fiber bundles, but small bowel glial cell density was reduced. Despite this, bowel motility appeared normal. Furthermore, although Tbx3 is expressed in cardiac neural crest, Tbx3 fl/fl; Wnt1-Cre mice had structurally normal hearts. Thus, loss of Tbx3 within neural crest has selective effects on Tbx3-expressing neural crest derivatives.