Postnatal developmental dynamics of cell type specification genes in Brn3a/Pou4f1 Retinal Ganglion Cells

Published on 2019-10-24T13:13:43Z (GMT) by
Abstract Background About 20–30 distinct Retinal Ganglion Cell (RGC) types transmit visual information from the retina to the brain. The developmental mechanisms by which RGCs are specified are still largely unknown. Brn3a is a member of the Brn3/Pou4f transcription factor family, which contains key regulators of RGC postmitotic specification. In particular, Brn3a ablation results in the loss of RGCs with small, thick and dense dendritic arbors (‘midget-like’ RGCs), and morphological changes in other RGC subpopulations. To identify downstream molecular mechanisms underlying Brn3a effects on RGC numbers and morphology, our group recently performed a RNA deep sequencing screen for Brn3a transcriptional targets in mouse RGCs and identified 180 candidate transcripts. Methods We now focus on a subset of 28 candidate genes encoding potential cell type determinant proteins. We validate and further define their retinal expression profile at five postnatal developmental time points between birth and adult stage, using in situ hybridization (ISH), RT-PCR and fluorescent immunodetection (IIF). Results We find that a majority of candidate genes are enriched in the ganglion cell layer during early stages of postnatal development, but dynamically change their expression profile. We also document transcript-specific expression differences for two example candidates, using RT-PCR and ISH. Brn3a dependency could be confirmed by ISH and IIF only for a fraction of our candidates. Conclusions Amongst our candidate Brn3a target genes, a majority demonstrated ganglion cell layer specificity, however only around two thirds showed Brn3a dependency. Some were previously implicated in RGC type specification, while others have known physiological functions in RGCs. Only three genes were found to be consistently regulated by Brn3a throughout postnatal retina development – Mapk10, Tusc5 and Cdh4.

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Muzyka, Vladimir; Brooks, Matthew; Badea, Tudor (2018): Postnatal developmental dynamics of cell type specification genes in Brn3a/Pou4f1 Retinal Ganglion Cells. figshare. Collection.