A model of retinal cell differentiation in the chick embryo

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2000 Sep;19(5):529-57. doi: 10.1016/s1350-9462(00)00008-2.


This article presents an overview of retinal cell differentiation in the chick embryo, in the context of a hypothetical model based on information generated during the last several years. The model proposes that: (1) most (if not all) proliferating neuroepithelial cells have the potential to give rise to a progeny comprising two or more different cell types; (2) the time at which cells undergo their terminal mitosis does not determine their differentiated fate; (3) many postmitotic precursor cells remain plastic (i.e., uncommitted) for some time after terminal mitosis, during which they encounter position-dependent signals as they migrate toward their definitive laminar position within the retina; (4) as a consequence of these inductive stimuli, precursor cells that migrate to different retinal layers express different transcriptional regulators; (5) morphologically undifferentiated precursor cells are committed to cell type-specific, complex patterns of differentiation, which they can express even when isolated from their normal microenvironment, and (6) even after precursor cells become committed to a specific identity, additional inductive signals are necessary for the cells to complete the development of a fully mature phenotype. The article presents a summary of the supportive evidence, as well as a critical evaluation of the model, and concludes with an overview of unanswered questions regarding retinal cell differentiation and a brief evaluation of the prospects for further progress in this field.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Chick Embryo / cytology*
  • Chick Embryo / physiology
  • Mitosis / physiology
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / embryology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Stem Cells / physiology