Dual genetic pathways of endothelin-mediated intercellular signaling revealed by targeted disruption of endothelin converting enzyme-1 gene

Hiromi Yanagisawa, Masashi Yanagisawa, Raj P. Kapur, James A Richardson, S. Clay Williams, David E. Clouthier, Damiane De Wit, Noriaki Emoto, Robert E Hammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

410 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent gene targeting studies have revealed unexpected roles for endothelins in the development of neural crest-derived tissues. Endothelin converting enzyme-1 (ECE-1) catalyzes the proteolytic activation of big endothelin-1 to endothelin-1(ET-1) in vitro. However, the importance of ECE-1 cleavage in the multiple endothelin pathways in vivo is unknown. Here we generated a targeted null mutation in the mouse ECE-1 gene. ECE-1(-/-) term embryos exhibited craniofacial and cardiac abnormalities virtually identical to the defects seen in ET-1 and endothelin A receptor (ET(A))-deficient embryos. Epidermal melanocytes as well as enteric neurons of the distal gut were also absent in ECE-1(-/-) embryos, reproducing the developmental phenotype seen in ET-3(-/-) and endothelin B receptor (ET(B))(-/-) mice. Surprisingly, large amounts of mature ET-1 peptide are found in ECE-1(-/-) embryos, indicating that non-ECE-1 protease(s) can activate ET-1 at certain sites. However, these enzymes cannot produce sufficient mature endothelin at the locations crucial for normal embryonic development. These findings reveal that ECE-1 is a bona fide activating protease for both big ET-1 and big ET-3 in vivo, and that the cell-cell communication pathways represented by the ET-1/ECE-1/ET(A) axis and the ET-3/ECE-1/ET(B) axis are each involved in the development of distinct subsets of neural crest cell lineages. Mutations in ECE-1 may cause developmental defects in humans, such as Hirschsprung disease, velocardiofacial syndrome and related neurocristopathies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-836
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopment
Volume125
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 11 1998

Keywords

  • Branchial arch
  • ECE-1
  • Enteric neuron
  • Heart
  • Melanocyte
  • Mouse
  • Neural crest
  • Protease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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