[Molecular genetics of Hirschsprung disease: a model of multigenic neurocristopathy].J Soc Biol. 2000; 194(3-4):125-8.JS
Hirschsprung's disease (HSCR, aganglionic megacolon) is a frequent congenital malformation regarded as a multigenic neurocristopathy. Three susceptibility genes have been recently identified in HSCR, namely the RET proto-oncogene, the endothelin B receptor (EDNRB) gene, and the endothelin 3 (EDN3) gene. RET gene mutations were found in significant proportions of familial (50%) and sporadic (15-20%) HSCR, while homozygosity for EDNRB or EDN3 mutations accounted for the rare HSCR-Waardenburg syndrome (WS) association. More recently, heterozygous EDNRB an EDN3 missense mutations have been reported in isolated HSCR patients. Some of these results were obtained after the identification of mouse genes whose natural or site-directed mutations resulted in megacolon and coat color spotting. There is also conclusive evidence for the involvement of other independent loci in HSCR. In particular, the recent identification of neurotrophic factors acting as RET ligands (GDNF and Neurturin) provide additional candidate genes for HSCR. The dissection of the genetic etiology of HSCR disease may then provide a unique opportunity to distinguish between a polygenic and a genetically heterogeneous disease, thereby helping to understand other complex disorders and congenital malformations hitherto considered as multifactorial in origin. Finally, the study of the molecular bases of HSCR is also a step towards the understanding of developmental genetics of the enteric nervous system giving support to the role of the tyrosine kinase and endothelin-signaling pathways in the development of neural crest-derived enteric neurons in human.