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Dev Neurobiol. 2011 Dec;71(12):1297-309. doi: 10.1002/dneu.20900.

Developmental mechanisms that regulate retinal ganglion cell dendritic morphology.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, USA.


One of the fundamental features of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) is that dendrites of individual RGCs are confined to one or a few narrow strata within the inner plexiform layer (IPL), and each RGC synapses only with a small group of presynaptic bipolar and amacrine cells with axons/dendrites ramified in the same strata to process distinct visual features. The underlying mechanisms which control the development of this laminar-restricted distribution pattern of RGC dendrites have been extensively studied, and it is still an open question whether the dendritic pattern of RGCs is determined by molecular cues or by activity-dependent refinement. Accumulating evidence suggests that both molecular cues and activity-dependent refinement might regulate RGC dendrites in a cell subtype-specific manner. However, identification of morphological subtypes of RGCs before they have achieved their mature dendritic pattern is a major challenge in the study of RGC dendritic development. This problem is now being circumvented through the use of molecular markers in genetically engineered mouse lines to identify RGC subsets early during development. Another unanswered fundamental question in the study of activity-dependent refinement of RGC dendrites is how changes in synaptic activity lead to the changes in dendritic morphology. Recent studies have started to shed light on the molecular basis of activity-dependent dendritic refinement of RGCs by showing that some molecular cascades control the cytoskeleton reorganization of RGCs.

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