Netrin-1 is a potent axonal and neuronal guidance cue in the developing nervous system. Netrin-1 functions are mediated by its receptors, such as deleted in colorectal cancer (DCC) present on axons and neurons. Localization of DCC and Netrin-1 on various types of enteric neurons and their role in the mature enteric nervous system is unknown. The results of our study revealed that almost all enteric neurons and processes express DCC and Netrin-1 in the adult mice. Netrin-1-like-immunoreactivity (IR) was detected in the cytoplasm of neurons with some showing strong or weak staining. The majority of Netrin-1-like-immunoreactive enteric neurons were choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-positive. However, ~19% of neurons were strongly Netrin-1-like-positive but ChAT-negative while ~8% of neurons were Netrin-1-like-negative but strongly ChAT-positive. In contrast, almost all nitric oxide synthase (nNOS)-positive enteric neurons displayed strong Netrin-1-like-IR. This differential intensity of Netrin-1 expression in the myenteric neurons might determine major neuronal subtypes regulating intestinal motility, ChAT-IR excitatory, and nNOS-IR inhibitory muscle motor and interneurons. This is the first study demonstrating the localization of DCC and Netrin-1 in the colonic myenteric plexus of the adult mice and their expression level determining two major neuronal subtypes regulating intestinal motility.


choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), deleted in colorectal cancer (DCC), enteric nervous system (ENS), Netrin-1, neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS)

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