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Neuron. 2004 Aug 19;43(4):475-85.

Retinal ganglion cell type, size, and spacing can be specified independent of homotypic dendritic contacts.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


In Brn3b(-/-) mice, where 80% of retinal ganglion cells degenerate early in development, the remaining 20% include most or all ganglion cell types. Cells of the same type cover the retinal surface evenly but tile it incompletely, indicating that a regular mosaic and normal dendritic field size can be maintained in the absence of contact among homotypic cells. In Math5(-/-) mice, where only approximately 5% of ganglion cells are formed, the dendritic arbors of at least two types among the residual ganglion cells are indistinguishable from normal in shape and size, even though throughout development they are separated by millimeters from the nearest neighboring ganglion cell of the same type. It appears that the primary phenotype of retinal ganglion cells can develop without homotypic contact; dendritic repulsion may be an end-stage mechanism that fine-tunes the dendritic arbors for more efficient coverage of the retinal surface.

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