Neuronal clustering and fasciculation phenotype in Dscam- and Bax-deficient mouse retinas.
ABSTRACT: Individual types of retinal neurons are distributed to minimize proximity to neighboring cells. Many of these same cell types extend dendrites to provide coverage of the retinal surface. These two cardinal features of retinal mosaics are disrupted, for certain cell types, in mice deficient for the Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule, Dscam, exhibiting an aberrant clustering of somata and fasciculation of dendrites. The Dscam mutant mouse retina also exhibits excess numbers of these same cell types. The present study compared these two features in Dscam mutant retinas with the Bax knockout retina, in which excess numbers of two of these cell types, the melanopsin-positive retinal ganglion cells (MRGCs) and the dopaminergic amacrine cells (DACs), are also present. Whole retinas were immunolabeled for both populations, and every labeled soma was plotted. For the MRGCs, we found a gene dosage effect for Dscam, with the Dscam+/- retinas showing smaller increases in cell number, clustering, and fasciculation. Curiously, Bax-/- retinas, showing numbers of MRGCs intermediate to those found in the Dscam-/- and Dscam+/- retinas, also had clustering and fasciculation phenotypes that were intermediate to retinas with those genotypes. DACs, by comparison, showed changes in both the Dscam-/- and the Bax-/- retinas that did not correlate with their increases in DAC number. The fasciculation phenotype in the Dscam-/- retina was particularly prominent despite only modest clustering. These results demonstrate that the somal clustering and fasciculation observed in the Dscam mutant retina are not unique to Dscam deficiency and are manifested distinctively by different retinal cell types.
Project description:Cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) provide identifying cues by which neural architecture is sculpted. The Down Syndrome Cell Adhesion Molecule (DSCAM) is required for many neurodevelopmental processes in different species and also has several potential mechanisms of activity, including homophilic adhesion, homophilic repulsion and heterophilic interactions. In the mouse retina, Dscam is expressed in many, but not all neuronal subtypes. Mutations in Dscam cause the fasciculation of dendrites of neighboring homotypic neurons, indicating a role in self-avoidance among cells of a given type, a disruption of the non-random patterning of their cell bodies, and a decrease in developmental cell death in affected cell populations. In order to address how DSCAM facilitates retinal pattering, we developed a conditional allele of Dscam to use alongside existing Dscam mutant mouse strains. Conditional deletion of Dscam reproduces cell spacing, cell number and dendrite arborization defects. Inducible deletion of Dscam and retinal ganglion cell depletion in Brn3b mutant retinas both indicate that these DSCAM-mediated phenotypes can occur independently. In chimeric retinas, in which wild type and Dscam mutant cells are comingled, Dscam mutant cells entangle adjacent wild type cells of the same type, as if both cells were lacking Dscam, consistent with DSCAM-dependent cell spacing and neurite arborization being mediated through homophilic binding cell-to-cell. Deletion of Dscam in specific cell types causes cell-type-autonomous cell body spacing defects, indicating that DSCAM mediates arborization and spacing by acting within given cell types. We also examine the cell autonomy of DSCAM in laminar stratification and find that laminar disorganization can be caused in a non-cell autonomous fashion. Finally, we find Dscam dosage-dependent defects in developmental cell death and amacrine cell spacing, relevant to the increased cell death and other disorders observed in Down syndrome mouse models and human patients, in which Dscam is present in three copies.
Project description:To establish functional circuitry, retinal neurons occupy spatial domains by arborizing their processes, which requires the self-avoidance of neurites from an individual cell, and by spacing their cell bodies, which requires positioning the soma and establishing a zone within which other cells of the same type are excluded. The mosaic patterns of distinct cell types form independently and overlap. The cues that direct these processes in the vertebrate retina are not known. Here we show that some types of retinal amacrine cells from mice with a spontaneous mutation in Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam), a gene encoding an immunoglobulin-superfamily member adhesion molecule, have defects in the arborization of processes and in the spacing of cell bodies. In the mutant retina, cells that would normally express Dscam have hyperfasciculated processes, preventing them from creating an orderly arbor. Also, their cell bodies are randomly distributed or pulled into clumps rather than being regularly spaced mosaics. Our results indicate that mouse DSCAM mediates isoneuronal self-avoidance for arborization and heteroneuronal self-avoidance within specific cell types to prevent fasciculation and to preserve mosaic spacing. These functions are analogous to those of Drosophila DSCAM (ref. 6) and DSCAM2 (ref. 7). DSCAM may function similarly in other regions of the mammalian nervous system, and this role may extend to other members of the mammalian Dscam gene family.
Project description:The mature vertebrate retina is a highly ordered neuronal network of cell bodies and synaptic neuropils arranged in distinct layers. Little, however, is known about the emergence of this spatial arrangement. Here, we investigate how the three main types of retinal inhibitory neuron (RIN)--horizontal cells (HCs), inner nuclear layer amacrine cells (iACs) and displaced amacrine cells (dACs)--reach their specific laminar positions during development. Using in vivo time-lapse imaging of zebrafish retinas, we show that RINs undergo distinct phases of migration. The first phase, common to all RINs, is bipolar migration directed towards the apicobasal centre of the retina. All RINs then transition to a less directionally persistent multipolar phase of migration. Finally, HCs, iACs and dACs each undergo cell type-specific migration. In contrast to current hypotheses, we find that most dACs send processes into the forming inner plexiform layer (IPL) before migrating through it and inverting their polarity. By imaging and quantifying the dynamics of HCs, iACs and dACs from birth to final position, this study thus provides evidence for distinct and new migration patterns during retinal lamination and insights into the initiation of IPL formation.
Project description:We investigated the effects of lentivirus-mediated RNAi targeting of Nogo Receptor (NgR) on the proliferation and survival of murine retinal ganglion cells (mRGCs) in vitro and in vivo. Cultured mRGCs and C57BL/6 male mice were divided into 4 experimental groups: blank, model [100 μM N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)], nscRNA (100 μM NMDA+ nscRNA vectors) and siNgR (100 μM NMDA+ siNgR vectors). CCK-8 and flow cytometry analyses revealed that silencing NgR enhanced proliferation, cell cycling and survival of NMDA-treated mRGCs. H&E staining showed that NgR silencing enhanced mRGC cell density and reduced angiogenesis in NMDA-treated retinal tissues. TUNEL assays showed that mRGC apoptosis was significantly diminished by NgR silencing in NMDA-treated retinal tissues. Western blotting and qRT-PCR analysis in NMDA-treated mRGCs and murine retinal tissues revealed that NgR silencing resulted in downregulation of RhoA signaling (RhoA and ROCK2). Western blotting showed that levels of activated Bax and cleaved caspase 3 were decreased, while Bcl-2 and pro-caspase 3 were increased in NMDA-treated mRGCs and murine retinal tissues, which corroborated the decreased apoptosis. These findings indicate that NgR gene silencing increases proliferation and survival of mRGCs in NMDA-treated murine retinas, which suggests a potential for therapeutic application to preventing optic nerve damage.
Project description:Abnormal retinal angiogenesis leads to visual impairment and blindness. Understanding how retinal vessels develop normally has dramatically improved treatments for people with retinal vasculopathies, but additional information about development is required. Abnormal neuron patterning in the outer retina has been shown to result in abnormal vessel development and blindness, for example, in people and mouse models with Crumbs homologue 1 (CRB1) mutations. In this study, we report and characterize a mouse model of inner retinal lamination disruption and bleeding, the Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam) mutant, and test how neuron-neurite placement within the inner retina guides development of intraretinal vessels.Bax mutant mice (increased neuron cell number), Dscam mutant mice (increased neuron cell number, disorganized lamination), Fat3 mutant mice (disorganized neuron lamination), and Dscam gain-of-function mice (Dscam(GOF)) (decreased neuron cell number) were used to manipulate neuron placement and number. Immunohistochemistry was used to assay organization of blood vessels, glia, and neurons. In situ hybridization was used to map the expression of angiogenic factors.Significant changes in the organization of vessels within mutant retinas were found. Displaced neurons and microglia were associated with the attraction of vessels. Using Fat3 mutant and Dscam(GOF) retinas, we provide experimental evidence that vessel branching is induced at the neuron-neurite interface, but that other factors are required for full plexus layer formation. We further demonstrate that the displacement of neurons results in the mislocalization of angiogenic factors.Inner retina neuron lamination is required for development of intraretinal vessels.
Project description:The retina has a unique three-dimensional architecture, the precise organization of which allows for complete sampling of the visual field. Along the radial or apicobasal axis, retinal neurons and their dendritic and axonal arbors are segregated into layers, while perpendicular to this axis, in the tangential plane, four of the six neuronal types form patterned cellular arrays, or mosaics. Currently, the molecular cues that control retinal cell positioning are not well-understood, especially those that operate in the tangential plane. Here we investigated the role of the PTEN phosphatase in establishing a functional retinal architecture.In the developing retina, PTEN was localized preferentially to ganglion, amacrine and horizontal cells, whose somata are distributed in mosaic patterns in the tangential plane. Generation of a retina-specific Pten knock-out resulted in retinal ganglion, amacrine and horizontal cell hypertrophy, and expansion of the inner plexiform layer. The spacing of Pten mutant mosaic populations was also aberrant, as were the arborization and fasciculation patterns of their processes, displaying cell type-specific defects in the radial and tangential dimensions. Irregular oscillatory potentials were also observed in Pten mutant electroretinograms, indicative of asynchronous amacrine cell firing. Furthermore, while Pten mutant RGC axons targeted appropriate brain regions, optokinetic spatial acuity was reduced in Pten mutant animals. Finally, while some features of the Pten mutant retina appeared similar to those reported in Dscam-mutant mice, PTEN expression and activity were normal in the absence of Dscam.We conclude that Pten regulates somal positioning and neurite arborization patterns of a subset of retinal cells that form mosaics, likely functioning independently of Dscam, at least during the embryonic period. Our findings thus reveal an unexpected level of cellular specificity for the multi-purpose phosphatase, and identify Pten as an integral component of a novel cell positioning pathway in the retina.
Project description:DSCAM and DSCAM-LIKE1 (DSCAML1) serve diverse neurodevelopmental functions, including axon guidance, synaptic adhesion, and self-avoidance, depending on the species, cell type, and gene family member studied. We examined the function of DSCAM and DSCAML1 in the developing mouse retina. In addition to a subset of amacrine cells, Dscam was expressed in most retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). RGCs had fasciculated dendrites and clumped cell bodies in Dscam(-/-) mice, suggesting a role in self-avoidance. Dscaml1 was expressed in the rod circuit, and mice lacking Dscaml1 had fasciculated rod bipolar cell dendrites and clumped AII amacrine cell bodies, also indicating a role in self-avoidance. Neurons in Dscam or Dscaml1 mutant retinas stratified their processes appropriately in synaptic laminae in the inner plexiform layer, and functional synapses formed in the rod circuit in mice lacking Dscaml1. Therefore, DSCAM and DSCAML1 function similarly in self-avoidance, and are not essential for synaptic specificity in the mouse retina.
Project description:Melanopsin retinal ganglion cells (mRGCs) are photoreceptors driving circadian photoentrainment, and circadian dysfunction characterizes Alzheimer disease (AD). We investigated mRGCs in AD, hypothesizing that they contribute to circadian dysfunction.We assessed retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness by optical coherence tomography (OCT) in 21 mild-moderate AD patients, and in a subgroup of 16 we evaluated rest-activity circadian rhythm by actigraphy. We studied postmortem mRGCs by immunohistochemistry in retinas, and axons in optic nerve cross-sections of 14 neuropathologically confirmed AD patients. We coimmunostained for retinal amyloid β (Aβ) deposition and melanopsin to locate mRGCs. All AD cohorts were compared with age-matched controls.We demonstrated an age-related optic neuropathy in AD by OCT, with a significant reduction of RNFL thickness (p = 0.038), more evident in the superior quadrant (p = 0.006). Axonal loss was confirmed in postmortem AD optic nerves. Abnormal circadian function characterized only a subgroup of AD patients. Sleep efficiency was significantly reduced in AD patients (p = 0.001). We also found a significant loss of mRGCs in postmortem AD retinal specimens (p = 0.003) across all ages and abnormal mRGC dendritic morphology and size (p = 0.003). In flat-mounted AD retinas, Aβ accumulation was remarkably evident inside and around mRGCs.We show variable degrees of rest-activity circadian dysfunction in AD patients. We also demonstrate age-related loss of optic nerve axons and specifically mRGC loss and pathology in postmortem AD retinal specimens, associated with Aβ deposition. These results all support the concept that mRGC degeneration is a contributor to circadian rhythm dysfunction in AD.
Project description:Retinal dopamine is a critical modulator of high acuity, light-adapted vision and photoreceptor coupling in the retina. Dopaminergic amacrine cells (DACs) serve as the sole source of retinal dopamine, and dopamine release in the retina follows a circadian rhythm and is modulated by light exposure. However, the retinal circuits through which light influences the development and function of DACs are still unknown. Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) have emerged as a prime target for influencing retinal dopamine levels because they costratify with DACs in the inner plexiform layer and signal to them in a retrograde manner. Surprisingly, using genetic mouse models lacking specific phototransduction pathways, we find that while light influences the total number of DACs and retinal dopamine levels, this effect does not require ipRGCs. Instead, we find that the rod pathway is a critical modulator of both DAC number and retinal dopamine levels.
Project description:Intra-retinal axon guidance involves a coordinated expression of transcription factors, axon guidance genes, and secretory molecules within the retina. Pax6, the master regulator gene, has a spatio-temporal expression typically restricted till neurogenesis and fate-specification. However, our observation of persistent expression of Pax6 in mature RGCs led us to hypothesize that Pax6 could play a major role in axon guidance after fate specification. Here, we found significant alteration in intra-retinal axon guidance and fasciculation upon knocking out of Pax6 in E15.5 retina. Through unbiased transcriptome profiling between Pax6fl/fl and Pax6-/- retinas, we revealed the mechanistic insight of its role in axon guidance. Our results showed a significant increase in the expression of extracellular matrix molecules and decreased expression of retinal fate specification and neuron projection guidance molecules. Additionally, we found that EphB1 and Sema5B are directly regulated by Pax6 owing to the guidance defects and improper fasciculation of axons. We conclude that Pax6 expression post fate specification of RGCs is necessary for regulating the expression of axon guidance genes and most importantly for maintaining a conducive ECM through which the nascent axons get guided and fasciculate to reach the optic disc.