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Vis Neurosci. 1996 Jul-Aug;13(4):695-704.

Ontogeny of preproenkephalin mRNA expression in the rat retina.

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Department of Neuroscience and Anatomy, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, Hershey 17033, USA.


Endogenous opioid systems (i.e. opioid peptides and opioid receptors) modulate developmental events in the neonatal mammalian retina. In the present study, the mRNA encoding preproenkephalin A (PPE), the prohormone for the opioid growth factor (OGF), [Met5]-enkephalin, was studied in the developing and the adult retinas of rats. Northern analysis indicated the presence of a 1.4-kb message in the developing and adult retinas corresponding to rat PPE mRNA. Quantitation showed that PPE message was present on postnatal day 1 at 5% of the adult level, and increased during development until the adult quantity was reached by postnatal day 27. In situ hybridization experiments first detected the presence of PPE mRNA in retinal tissues during late gestation. In late prenatal and neonatal retinas, PPE message was associated with areas of the developing retina containing proliferating neuroblasts and postmitotic cells. Later in development, message appeared to be located primarily within the inner retina, with abundant PPE mRNA associated with putative horizontal cells of the inner nuclear layer (INL). The adult retina showed a similar pattern of PPE gene expression in the cells of the INL. These findings document that the gene expression in the retina for PPE begins in the fetus, continues during retinal development, and coincides with the presence of a PPE mRNA derivative ([Met5]-enkephalin) that regulates DNA synthesis during retinal ontogeny. Our results are also the first to show the presence of PPE message in the adult mammalian retina, suggesting transcription of an opioid gene in the mature visual system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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