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J Neurosci Res. 2019 Jan;97(1):16-28. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24329. Epub 2018 Sep 27.

Molecular dissection of cone photoreceptor-enriched genes encoding transmembrane and secretory proteins.

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Neurobiology-Neurodegeneration & Repair Laboratory, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.


Cone photoreceptors mediate color perception and daylight vision through intricate synaptic circuitry. In most mammalian retina, cones are greatly outnumbered by rods and exhibit inter-dependence for functional maintenance and survival. Currently, we have limited understanding of cone-specific molecular components that mediate response to extrinsic signaling factors or are involved in communication with rods and other retinal cells. To fulfill this gap, we compared the recently-published transcriptomes of developing S-cone-like photoreceptors from the Nrl-/- mouse retina with those of rods and identified candidate genes responsible for cone cell functions and communication. We generated an in silico expression profile of 823 genes that encode candidate transmembrane and secretory proteins and are up-regulated in Nrl-/- cone photoreceptors compared to wild type cones. In situ hybridization analysis validated high expression of seven of the selected candidate genes in the Nrl-/- retina. To examine their relevance to cone function, we performed in vivo knockdown of Epha10 in the Nrl-/- retina and demonstrated aberrant morphology and mislocalization of the photoreceptor cell bodies. Thus, the receptor tyrosine kinase Ephrin type-A receptor 10 appears to influence cone morphogenesis. Our studies reveal novel cone-enriched genes involved in interaction of cones with other retinal cell types and provide a framework for examining molecular pathways associated with intercellular communication.


cell communication; gene expression; retina; signaling pathway; transcriptome

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