Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Revealing the complexity of the gut’s brain

A new study proposes an exciting new model of neuronal diversification in the developing enteric nervous system (ENS) and establishes a detailed molecular taxonomy for enteric neurons. Their findings open new horizons for ENS research and for developing cell-based therapies for ENS disorders.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Twelve unique ENCs arise from a binary fate split during development with subsequent diversification of postmitotic neuronal populations.


  1. Furness, J.B. The Enteric Nervous System (Blackwell Publishing, 2006).

  2. Ganz, J., Melancon, E. & Eisen, J. S. Methods Cell Biol. 134, 139–164 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Neunlist, M. et al. Nat. Rev. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 10, 90–100 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Ganz, J. Dev. Dyn. 247, 268–278 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Rao, M. & Gershon, M. D. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 19, 552–565 (2018).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Morarach, K. et al. Nat. Neurosci. (2020).

  7. Zeisel, A. et al. Cell 174, 999–1014.e22 (2018).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Holguera, I. & Desplan, C. Science 362, 176–180 (2018).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Lasrado, R. et al. Science 356, 722–726 (2017).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Drokhlyansky, E. et al. Cell 182, 1606–1622.e23 (2020).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. May-Zhang, A.A. et al. Gastroenterology (2020).

  12. Brosens, E. et al. Dev. Biol. 417, 198–208 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Heuckeroth, R. O. Nat. Rev. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 15, 152–167 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Rao, M. & Gershon, M. D. Nat. Rev. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 13, 517–528 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Burns, A. J. et al. Dev. Biol. 417, 229–251 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Julia Ganz.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ganz, J. Revealing the complexity of the gut’s brain. Nat Neurosci 24, 1–2 (2021).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing