The development of the isthmo-optic nucleus

Brain Behav Evol. 1976;13(5):345-75. doi: 10.1159/000123821.


The nucleus of origin of centrifugal fibers to the retina (the so-called isthmo-optic nucleus - ION) has been used as a model for the study of the major features of neural development, from the period of cell proliferation until after the formation of its afferent and efferent connections. 3H-thymidine autoradiography has established that in the chick cells of the ION are generated (i.e., become post-mitotic) between the middle of the 5th and the end of the 7th days of incubation. The first-formed cells are found in the ventrolateral part of the nucleus, while those that are generated at successively later stages come to occupy progressively more medial and dorsal positions within the nucleus. The anlage of the ION can be identified on the 8th day of incubation, and by the 11th day, when it is numerically complete, it occupies a prominent position in the caudo-dorsal part of the midbrain tegmentum at the level of the IVth nerve nucleus. At this stage the nucleus contains about 22,000 neurons, and shows no signs of cytoarchitectonic differentiation. Between the 13th and 17th days of incubation, about 60% of the neurons in the nucleus degenerate; as a result of this degeneration, the arrival of afferent fibers, and the growth of the cells' processes, the nucleus comes to have its characteristic adult form of a complex, folded, bilaminar sheet, in which each part of the retina is precisely represented. Experiments based on the retrograde transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) from the eye indicate that the first centrifugal fibers, in the isthmo-optic tract (IOT), reach the retina on the 10 day of incubation, and by the 12th day all but about 5% of the neurons in the ION can be retrogradely labeled in this way...

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / embryology
  • Afferent Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chickens
  • Columbidae
  • Efferent Pathways / embryology
  • Efferent Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Mesencephalon / embryology*
  • Mesencephalon / ultrastructure
  • Optic Nerve / embryology
  • Optic Nerve / ultrastructure
  • Retina / embryology
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Superior Colliculi / embryology
  • Superior Colliculi / ultrastructure
  • Visual Pathways / embryology*