Differential activities of the RET tyrosine kinase receptor isoforms during mammalian embryogenesis.
de Graaff E., Srinivas S., Kilkenny C., D'Agati V., Mankoo BS., Costantini F., Pachnis V.
The RET receptor tyrosine kinase has a critical role in kidney organogenesis and the development of the enteric nervous system. Two major isoforms, RET9 and RET51, differ in the amino acid sequence of the C-terminal tail as a result of alternative splicing. To determine the roles of these isoforms in vivo, we used targeted mutagenesis to generate mice that express either RET9 or RET51. Monoisoformic RET9 mice, which lack RET51, are viable and appear normal. In contrast, monoisoformic RET51 animals, which lack RET9, have kidney hypodysplasia and lack enteric ganglia from the colon. To study the differential activities of the two RET isoforms further, we generated transgenic mice expressing ligand-dependent and constitutively active forms of RET9 or RET51 under the control of the Hoxb7 regulatory sequences. Such RET9 transgenes are capable of rescuing the kidney agenesis in RET-deficient mice or causing kidney hypodysplasia in wild-type animals. In contrast, similar RET51 transgenes fail to rescue the kidney agenesis or cause hypodysplasia. Our findings show that RET9 and RET51 have different signaling properties in vivo and define specific temporal and spatial requirements of c-Ret function during renal development and histogenesis of the enteric nervous system.