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J Comp Neurol. 1994 Jun 1;344(1):20-32.

Changes in fiber order in the optic nerve and tract of rat embryos.

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1
Department of Human Anatomy, University of Oxford, England.

Abstract

In order to define the extent to which retinotopic order in the optic pathways may contribute to fiber segregation at the chiasm or to the formation of central maps, the arrangement of fibers in the optic nerve and tract of rat embryos, on embryonic days 16.5 and 18.5, has been studied by placing a small granule of DiI in one of the four quadrants of the retina and tracing the filled fibers through transverse sections of the retinofugal pathway with confocal microscopy. There is a distinct quadrant-specific order in the optic stalk immediately behind the eye, with fibers from the ventral nasal, dorsal nasal, dorsal temporal, and ventral temporal retina arranged sequentially across the rostrocaudal axis of the cross section of the stalk. However, this distinct order is not maintained very far. There is a gradual increase in the degree of overlap between fibers from the different quadrants as the fibers pass towards the chiasm. The dorsal groups of fibers intermingle extensively along almost the entire length of the stalk, but the fibers from ventral sectors remain separate until they reach the prechiasmatic region, where the ventral temporal and the ventral nasal fibers spread throughout the rostrocaudal extent of the stalk and the chiasm. The initial quadrant-specific order is completely lost at the chiasm. However, beyond the optic chiasm, the fibers are reorganized into another distinct order. In the optic tract, there is a segregation of dorsal from ventral fibers, but the nasal and temporal groups remain intermingled. The results of this study indicate that the earliest fibers in the developing optic tract are arranged according to topographical rules that differ from those obtaining behind the eye. Since all topographical order is lost between these two levels, there must be an active sorting mechanism in the region where the chiasm joins the tract. Possibly this mechanism is related to the development of the dorsoventral axis of the topographic maps in the central visual targets.

PMID:
8063954
DOI:
10.1002/cne.903440103
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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