We have investigated the relationship between the birthdate and the onset of differentiation of neurons in the embryonic zebrafish neural retina. Birthdates were established by a single injection of bromodeoxyuridine into embryos of closely spaced ages. Differentiation was revealed in the same embryos with a neuron-specific antibody, zn12. The first bromodeoxyuridine-negative (postmitotic) cells occupied the ganglion cell layer of ventronasal retina, where they formed a small cluster of 10 cells or less that included the first zn12-positive cells (neurons). New cells were recruited to both populations (bromodeoxyuridine-negative and zn12-positive) along the same front, similar to the unfolding of a fan, to produce a circular central patch of hundreds of cells in the ganglion cell layer about 9 h later. Thus the formation of this central patch, previously considered as the start of retinal neurogenesis, was actually a secondary event, with a developmental history of its own. The first neurons outside the ganglion cell layer also appeared in ventronasal retina, indicating that the ventronasal region was the site of initiation of all retinal neurogenesis. Within a column (a small cluster of neuroepithelial cells), postmitotic cells appeared first in the ganglion cell layer, then the inner nuclear layer, and then the outer nuclear layer, so cell birthday and cell fate were correlated within a column. The terminal mitoses occurred in three bursts separated by two 10-h intervals during which proliferation continued without terminal mitoses.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.