Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Atoh7-independent specification of retinal ganglion cell identity

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  12 Mar 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 11, eabe4983
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe4983

Abstract

Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) relay visual information from the eye to the brain. RGCs are the first cell type generated during retinal neurogenesis. Loss of function of the transcription factor Atoh7, expressed in multipotent early neurogenic retinal progenitors leads to a selective and essentially complete loss of RGCs. Therefore, Atoh7 is considered essential for conferring competence on progenitors to generate RGCs. Despite the importance of Atoh7 in RGC specification, we find that inhibiting apoptosis in Atoh7-deficient mice by loss of function of Bax only modestly reduces RGC numbers. Single-cell RNA sequencing of Atoh7;Bax-deficient retinas shows that RGC differentiation is delayed but that the gene expression profile of RGC precursors is grossly normal. Atoh7;Bax-deficient RGCs eventually mature, fire action potentials, and incorporate into retinal circuitry but exhibit severe axonal guidance defects. This study reveals an essential role for Atoh7 in RGC survival and demonstrates Atoh7-dependent and Atoh7-independent mechanisms for RGC specification.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances