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J Comp Neurol. 2008 Jan 20;506(3):506-23.

Emergence of cellular markers and functional ionotropic glutamate receptors on tangentially dispersed cells in the developing mouse retina.

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Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


Tangential cell dispersion in the retina is a spacing mechanism that establishes a regular mosaic organization among cell types and contributes to their final positioning. The present study has used the X-inactivation transgenic mouse expressing the lacZ reporter gene on one X chromosome. Due to X chromosome inactivation, 50% of early progenitor cells express beta-galactosidase (beta-Gal); therefore, all cells derived from a particular beta-Gal-expressing progenitor cell can be identified in labeled columns. The radial segregation of clonally related beta-Gal-positive and beta-Gal-negative cells can be used to determine whether single cells transgress a clonal boundary in the retina. We investigated the extent to which particular cell classes tangentially disperse by analyzing the placement of labeled cells expressing particular markers at several ages and quantifying their tangential displacement. Retinal neurons expressing cell markers at postnatal day (P) 1 have a greater degree of tangential dispersion compared with amacrine and bipolar cells at P5-6. We also studied whether there is a functional correlation with these dispersion patterns by investigating the emergence of functional ionotropic glutamate receptors. To determine the degree of functional glutamate receptor activation, agmatine (AGB) was used in combination with cell-specific labeling. AGB permeates functional glutamate receptor channels following activation with alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA), kainate or N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). Within these receptor groups, high concentrations of AMPA, kainate, and NMDA are associated with a high degree of tangential dispersion in the adult. Developmentally, functional kainate and AMPA receptors were detected by P1 and were associated with tangentially dispersed cells. Functional NMDA receptors were not detected as early as kainate and AMPA receptors. These results indicate that cells generated early during development are more likely to disperse tangentially compared with those generated later in development. Therefore, functional AMPA and kainate receptors may play a critical role in tangentially displacing cell types.

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