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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2010 Aug;11(8):563-76. doi: 10.1038/nrn2880.

Transcriptional regulation of photoreceptor development and homeostasis in the mammalian retina.

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Neurobiology-Neurodegeneration and Repair Laboratory, Building 6/338, MSC 0610, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, 6 Center Drive, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


In the developing vertebrate retina, diverse neuronal subtypes originate from multipotent progenitors in a conserved order and are integrated into an intricate laminated architecture. Recent progress in mammalian photoreceptor development has identified a complex relationship between six key transcription-regulatory factors (RORbeta, OTX2, NRL, CRX, NR2E3 and TRbeta2) that determine rod versus M cone or S cone cell fate. We propose a step-wise 'transcriptional dominance' model of photoreceptor cell fate determination, with the S cone representing the default state of a generic photoreceptor precursor. Elucidation of gene-regulatory networks that dictate photoreceptor genesis and homeostasis will have wider implications for understanding the development of nervous system function and for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

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