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J Comp Neurol. 2006 Dec 10;499(5):702-15.

Degeneration and regeneration of ultraviolet cone photoreceptors during development in rainbow trout.

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Department of Biology, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3N5, Canada.


Ultraviolet-sensitive (UVS) cones disappear from the retina of salmonid fishes during a metamorphosis that prepares them for deeper/marine waters. UVS cones subsequently reappear in the retina near sexual maturation and the return migration to natal streams. Cellular mechanisms of this UVS cone ontogeny were investigated using electroretinograms, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry against opsins during and after thyroid hormone (TH) treatments of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Increasing TH levels led to UVS cone degeneration. Labeling demonstrated that UVS cone degeneration occurs via programmed cell death and caspase inhibitors can inhibit this death. After the cessation of TH treatment, UVS cones regenerated in the retina. Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) was applied after the termination of TH treatment and was detected in the nuclei of cells expressing UVS opsin. BrdU was found in UVS cones but not other cone types. The most parsimonious explanation for the data is that UVS cones degenerated and UVS cones were regenerated from intrinsic retinal progenitor cells. Regenerating UVS cones were functionally integrated such that they were able to elicit electrical responses from second-order neurons. This is the first report of cones regenerating during natural development. Both the death and regeneration of cones in retinae represent novel mechanisms for tuning visual systems to new visual tasks or environments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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