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J Mol Histol. 2012 Dec;43(6):633-9. doi: 10.1007/s10735-012-9433-z. Epub 2012 Jun 20.

Expression patterns of Nurr1 in rat retina development.

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  • 1Institute of Basic Medicine, Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang, 050017, China.


Nurr1 is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, and is involved in regulating the differentiation, migration and maturation of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons. The present study was designed to observe Nurr1 protein expression patterns during rat retina development. Immunohistochemical double staining, fluorescence double staining and western blotting were used. The results revealed dramatic and dynamic changes in Nurr1 protein expression during retinal development. Nurr1-positive cells appeared in small quantities at embryonic day 18, and their number then increased markedly during development. The peak occurred at postnatal days 3-7. As maturation continued, the number of positive cells gradually decreased. Comparative observation of Nurr1 and PCNA showed that Nurr1 was confined to differentiated and migrating immature cells, and that it was not present in proliferating cells. Nurr1-positive cells, identified by comparative observation of Nurr1 and syntaxin-1, were amacrine cells. In addition, the Nurr1 and tyrosine hydroxylase coexisted in the same cells, but most cells with Nurr1 expression did not express tyrosine hydroxylase. These results suggest that Nurr1 may play a regulatory role in the differentiation and maturation of both dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic amacrine cells in the rat retina.

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