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J Neurosci. 1998 Feb 1;18(3):975-86.

Cellular localization of ephrin-A2, ephrin-A5, and other functional guidance cues underlies retinotopic development across species.

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Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Avian retinotectal and rodent retinocollicular systems are general model systems used to examine developmental processes that underpin topographically organized neuronal circuits. The two systems rely on guidance components to establish their precise retinotopic maps, but many cellular events differ during their development. For example, compared with the chick, a generally less restricted outgrowth pattern is observed when retinae innervate their targets in rodents. Cellular or molecular distributions of guidance components may account for such differences in retinotopic development across species. Candidate repellent molecules, such as ephrin-A2 and ephrin-A5, have been cloned in both chick and rodents; however, it has not yet been shown in rodents that living cells express sufficient amounts of any repellent components to deter outgrowth. We used a coculture assay that gives cellular resolution of retinotarget interactions and demonstrate that living, caudal superior colliculus cells selectively prevent extension of axons from temporal regions of the retinae. Time-lapse video microscopy revealed the cellular localization of permissive and repulsive guidance components in rodents, which differed from that in chick. To analyze the potential molecular basis for these differences, we investigated the function and localization of ephrin-A2 and -A5. Cells transfected with ephrin-A2 and -A5 selectively repelled retinal axons. Ephrin-A2 and -A5 RNA expression patterns differed across cell populations and between species, suggesting molecular mechanisms and key cellular interactions that may underlie fundamental differences in the development of retinotectal and retinocollicular maps.

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