The development of the pattern of retinal ganglion cells in the chick retina: mechanisms that control differentiation
Neurons in both vertebrate and invertebrate eyes are organized in regular arrays. Although much is known about the mechanisms involved in the formation of the regular arrays of neurons found in invertebrate eyes, much less is known about the mechanisms of formation of neuronal mosaics in the vertebrate eye. The purpose of these studies was to determine the cellular mechanisms that pattern the first neurons in vertebrate retina, the retinal ganglion cells. We have found that the ganglion cells
... the chick retina develop as a patterned array that spreads from the central to peripheral retina as a wave front of differentiation. The onset of ganglion cell differentiation keeps pace with overall retinal growth; however, there is no clear cell cycle synchronization at the front of differentiation of the first ganglion cells. The differentiation of ganglion cells is not dependent on signals from previously formed ganglion cells, since isolation of the peripheral retina by as much as 400 microm from the front of ganglion cell differentiation does not prevent new ganglion cells from developing. Consistent with previous studies, blocking FGF receptor activation with a specific inhibitor to the FGFRs retards the movement of the front of ganglion cell differentiation, while application of exogenous FGF1 causes the precocious development of ganglion cells in peripheral retina. Our observations, taken together with those of previous studies, support a role for FGFs and FGF receptor activation in the initial development of retinal ganglion cells from the undifferentiated neuroepithelium peripheral to the expanding wave front of differentiation.