RNA-seq of Isolated Chromaffin Cells Highlights the Role of Sex-Linked and Imprinted Genes in Adrenal Medulla Development

Wing Hei Chan, Masayuki Komada, Toshiaki Fukushima, E. Michelle Southard-Smith, Colin R. Anderson, Matthew J. Wakefield

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Adrenal chromaffin cells and sympathetic neurons synthesize and release catecholamines, and both cell types are derived from neural crest precursors. However, they have different developmental histories, with sympathetic neurons derived directly from neural crest precursors while adrenal chromaffin cells arise from neural crest-derived cells that express Schwann cell markers. We have sought to identify the genes, including imprinted genes, which regulate the development of the two cell types in mice. We developed a method of separating the two cell types as early as E12.5, using differences in expression of enhanced yellow fluorescent protein driven from the tyrosine hydroxylase gene, and then used RNA sequencing to confirm the characteristic molecular signatures of the two cell types. We identified genes differentially expressed by adrenal chromaffin cells and sympathetic neurons. Deletion of a gene highly expressed by adrenal chromaffin cells, NIK-related kinase, a gene on the X-chromosome, results in reduced expression of adrenaline-synthesizing enzyme, phenyl-N-methyl transferase, by adrenal chromaffin cells and changes in cell cycle dynamics. Finally, many imprinted genes are up-regulated in chromaffin cells and may play key roles in their development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3929
Number of pages17
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • cell fate and cell lineage
  • cell proliferation
  • differentiation
  • next-generation sequencing

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