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Development. 2006 Mar;133(5):913-23. Epub 2006 Feb 1.

Notch 1 inhibits photoreceptor production in the developing mammalian retina.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The transmembrane receptor Notch1 plays a role in development and homeostasis in vertebrates and invertebrates. The mammalian retina is an excellent tissue in which to dissect the precise role of Notch signaling in regulating cell fate and proliferation. However, a systematic analysis has been limited by the early embryonic lethality of Notch1-null mice. Here, Notch1 was conditionally removed from the murine retina either early or late in development. Removal of Notch1 early led to a reduction in the size of the retina as well as aberrant morphology. A decrease in the number of progenitor cells and premature neurogenesis accounted for the reduction in size. Unexpectedly, ablation of Notch1 in early progenitor cells led to enhanced cone photoreceptor production, and ablation of Notch1 at later points led to an almost exclusive production of rod photoreceptor cells. These data suggest that Notch1 not only maintains the progenitor state, but is required to inhibit the photoreceptor fate. These cone enriched mutant mice should prove to be a valuable resource for the study of this relatively rare mammalian photoreceptor cell type.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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