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Eur J Neurosci. 2004 Feb;19(3):497-504.

The orientation and dynamics of cell division within the plane of the developing vertebrate retina.

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Department of Visual Science, Institute of Ophthalmology, 11-43 Bath Street, University College London, London EC1V 9EL, UK.


The orientation of a dividing cell within the plane of the tissue plays an essential role in regulating cell fate in a range of developing structures. To assess its potential role in the developing vertebrate retina we used standard confocal microscopy of fixed tissue and time-lapse confocal imaging of living tissue to examine the orientation of cell division and mitotic spindle rotation within the plane of the retinal neuroepithelium. Based on the study of three rat strains and chick, we report in contrast to recent findings that during the main phase of cell production (E18-P4 in the rat and E6-E11 in the chick) dividing cells are randomly orientated with respect to key anatomical landmarks as well as the orientation of their dividing neighbours. Results from live imaging of neonatal rat retinae support these findings and suggest that unlike the developing cortex, in which metaphase plates often rotate extensively before coming to rest in anaphase, retinal mitotic spindle rotations prior to cell division are minimal. Furthermore, the orientation of metaphase entry largely defines that which is finally adopted during anaphase. Hence, the dynamics of metaphase progression through to anaphase in the retina appear to differ markedly from the brain, and cell divisions within the plane of the tissue are randomly orientated. These results contribute to a growing body of evidence that suggests that the current paradigm with respect to asymmetric division derived from the study of invertebrates cannot be generalized to the developing vertebrate nervous system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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