Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Neurogenesis in the Chick Retina

Eur J Neurosci. 1991 Jun;3(6):559-569. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.1991.tb00843.x.


Chick embryo retinas were labelled in ovo by single injections of [3H]thymidine at selected times between days 2 and 12 of incubation. Embryos were later removed, at different stages of development, and the retinas processed for autoradiography of either serial sections or dissociated cell preparations. Analysis of unlabelled cells shows that neurogenesis starts, on day 2 of incubation, in a dorsotemporal area of the central retina, close to the posterior pole and to the optic nerve head. A gradient of neurogenesis spreads from this central area to the periphery, where neurogenesis ends, shortly after day 12, when the last few bipolar cells withdraw from the cell cycle. Additional dorsal-to-ventral and temporal-to-nasal gradients can be discerned in our autoradiographs. In all retinal sectors, ganglion cells start first to withdraw from the cell cycle, followed, with substantial overlapping, by amacrine, horizontal, photoreceptor plus Müller, and bipolar neuroblasts. Ganglion cells are also the first to reach the 50% level of unlabelled cells, followed this time by horizontal, photoreceptor, amacrine, Müller and bipolar cells. Finally, 100% levels of unlabelled cell populations are attained simultaneously by ganglion, horizontal and photoreceptor cells, followed by amacrine, then by Müller, and last by bipolar cells. Although all classes of neurons, in varying proportions, are being produced most of the time, our results also demonstrate that, in any given retinal area, the first cells leaving the cycle are determined to become ganglion cells, and the last ones bipolar cells, and not other types.