The norepinephrine transporter (NET) is a neurotransmitter scavenger and site of drug action in noradrenergic neurons. The aim of this study was to identify mechanisms that regulate NET expression during the development of quail (q) sympathetic neuroblasts, which develop from neural crest stem cells. Neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) and transforming growth factor beta1 (TGF-beta1) cause an increase of qNET mRNA levels in neural crest cells. When combined, the growth factors are additive in increasing qNET mRNA levels. Both NT-3 and TGF-beta1 are synthesized by neural crest cells. Onset of NET expression precedes the onset of neural crest stem cell emigration from the neural tube. In older embryos, qNET is expressed by several crest-derived and noncrest tissues. The data show that qNET expression in presumptive sympathetic neurons is initiated early in embryonic development by growth factors that are produced by neural crest cells themselves. Moreover, the results support our previous observations that norepinephrine transport contributes to the regulation of the differentiation of neural crest stem cells into sympathetic neurons.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.