RET proto-oncogene is important for the development of respiratory CO2 sensitivity

Melvin D. Burton, Akira Kawashima, James A. Brayer, Homayoun Kazemi, Daniel C. Shannon, Anita Schuchardt, Frank Costantini, Vassilis Pachnis, T. Bernard Kinane

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95 Scopus citations


Brain stem muscarinic cholinergic pathways are important in respiratory carbon dioxide (GO,) chemosensitivity. Defects in the muscarinic system have been reported in children with congenital/developmental disorders of respiratory control such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS). This early onset of disease suggests a possible genetic basis. The muscarinic system is part of the autonomic nervous system which develops from the neural crest. Ret proto-oncogene is important for this development. Thus, a potential role for ret in the development of respiratory CO2 chemosensitivity was considered. Using plethysmography, we assessed the ventilatory response to inhaled CO2 in the unanesthetized offsprings of ret(+/-) mice. Fractional increases in minute ventilation during hypercapnia relative to isocapnia were 5.1 ± 3.2, 3.0 ± 1.6 and 1.4 ± 0.8 for the ret(+/+), ret(+/-) and ret(-/-) mice, respectively. The ret knockout mice have a depressed ventilatory response to inhaled CO2. Therefore, the ret gene is an important factor in the pathway of neuronal development which allow respiratory CO2 chemosensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 14 1997
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the NIDDK DK 02271-03, the Hearst Fund and the Shoolman Fund of the MGH Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit.


  • Control of respiration
  • Genetics
  • Knockout mouse
  • Respiratory chemosensitivity
  • Ret proto-oncogene


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