Waardenburg syndrome is a neurocristopathy characterized by a combination of skin/hair depigmentation and inner ear defects. In the type 4 form, these defects are comorbid with Hirschsprung disease, a disorder marked by an absence of neural ganglia in the distal colon triggering functional intestinal obstruction. Here, we report that the Spot mouse line – obtained through an insertional mutagenesis screen for genes involved in neural crest cell (NCC) development – is a model for Waardenburg syndrome type 4. We found that the Spot insertional mutation causes overexpression of an overlapping gene pair composed of the transcription factor-encoding Nr2f1 and the antisense long non-coding RNA A830082K12Rik in NCCs, via a mechanism involving relief of repression of these genes. Consistent with the previously described role of Nr2f1 in promoting gliogenesis in the central nervous system, we further found that NCC-derived progenitors of the enteric nervous system fail to fully colonize Spot embryonic guts due to their premature differentiation in glial cells. Taken together, our data thus identify silencer elements of the Nr2f1-A830082K12Rik gene pair as novel candidate loci for Waardenburg syndrome type 4.
- Received June 27, 2016.
- Accepted August 16, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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