An alkaline phosphatase (AP) reporter has been used to visualize detailed morphologies for all major classes of retinal neurons in the adult mouse. The analysis was performed on retinas in which AP expression was activated by Cre-mediated DNA recombination in a small fraction of cells. Recombination was controlled pharmacologically and, to a first approximation, appears to have occurred randomly. The morphologies of 794 inner retinal neurons have been analyzed by measuring arbor area, stratification level, and neurite branching patterns. When analyzed in this multidimensional parametric space, the cells can be clustered into subgroups by visual inspection and by using the Ward's and K-means algorithms. One application of this cell morphology data set and cluster analysis is as a standard for comparison with the retinas of genetically altered mice. This work illustrates the utility and feasibility of genetically directed marking methods for large-scale surveys of neuronal morphology.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.