Retinoic acid in the formation of the dorsoventral retina and its central projections

Dev Biol. 2000 Jun 15;222(2):460-70. doi: 10.1006/dbio.2000.9719.


Dynamic expression patterns of four retinoid-metabolizing enzymes create rapidly changing retinoic acid (RA) patterns in the emerging eye anlage of the mouse. First, a RA-rich ventral zone is set up, then a RA-poor dorsal zone, and finally a tripartite organization consisting of dorsal and ventral RA-rich zones separated by a horizontal RA-poor stripe. This subdivision of the retina into three RA concentration zones is directly visible as beta-galactosidase labeling patterns in retinas of RA-reporter mice. Because the axons of retinal ganglion cells transport the reporter product anterogradely, the central projections from dorsal and ventral retina can be visualized as two heavily labeled axon bundles. Comparisons of the axonal labeling with physiologic recordings of visual topography in the adult mouse show that the labeled axons represent the upper and the lower visual fields. The RA-poor stripe develops into a broad horizontal zone of higher visual acuity. Comparisons of the retina labeling with eye-muscle insertions show that the axis of the RA pattern lines up with the dorsoventral axis of the oculomotor system. These observations indicate that the dorsoventral axis of the embryonic eye anlage determines the functional coordinates of both vision and eye movements in the adult.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / drug effects
  • Brain / embryology*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Eye / embryology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Retina / drug effects
  • Retina / embryology*
  • Retinoic Acid 4-Hydroxylase
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology*
  • Visual Pathways / embryology
  • beta-Galactosidase / analysis
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics


  • Tretinoin
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Retinoic Acid 4-Hydroxylase
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
  • beta-Galactosidase