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J Comp Neurol. 1983 Nov 20;221(1):31-41.

Selective lectin binding of the developing mouse retina.


A battery of eight lectins with different carbohydrate specificities was used to study changes in glycoconjugate expression during cell differentiation in the mouse retina. The lectins tested included concanavalin A (Con A), wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), soybean agglutinin (SBA), peanut agglutinin (PNA), Ulex europaeus agglutinin (UEA), Ricinus communis agglutinin I (RCA), Dolichos biflorus agglutinin (DBA), and Limulus polyphemus agglutinin (LPA). Unfixed frozen sections of adult and early postnatal mouse retina were treated with fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated lectins and examined by fluorescence microscopy. The results showed selective lectin binding in both cellular and synaptic retinal layers of the adult mouse and throughout postnatal development. In general, an increase in intensity of fluorescent lectin staining during retinal development was observed for Con A, WGA, DBA, LPA, RCA, and PNA. This suggests an increase in the expression or accessibility of carbohydrate moieties during development. SBA and UEA showed little to no binding to adult or neonatal retina. Retinal vasculature was intensely stained by RCA, both during development and in the adult. All lectins binding to adult or neonatal retinal layers showed some degree of reactivity with the inner segment region of photoreceptor cells. However, only Con A, PNA and WGA bound to photoreceptor outer segments, suggesting significant differences in the glycosylated components of inner and outer segment membranes. PNA bound specifically to a subpopulation of photoreceptor cells and to discrete regions within the outer synaptic layer. The pattern of PNA binding suggests that this lectin binds preferentially to cone photoreceptor inner and outer segments and cone synaptic pedicles rather than to rod photoreceptor cells. This marked specificity of PNA binding suggests that it may provide a basis for the physical separation of cone and rod photoreceptor cells.

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