Rod photoreceptor development in vitro: intrinsic properties of proliferating neuroepithelial cells change as development proceeds in the rat retina

Neuron. 1990 Mar;4(3):461-7. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(90)90058-n.


We describe a reaggregated cell culture system in which retinal neuroepithelial cells from embryonic rats proliferate extensively and give rise to rod photoreceptors on the same schedule in vitro as they do in vivo. Both the proliferative potential of the embryonic neuroepithelial cells and the timing of their differentiation into rods are not changed by the presence of a 50-fold excess of neonatal neural retinal cells, although many more of the embryonic cells develop into rods in these circumstances. In such mixed-age cultures, dividing neonatal cells proliferate much less and give rise to rods much sooner than do dividing embryonic cells, suggesting that the dividing cells at the two ages are intrinsically different. These and other findings suggest that both cell-cell interactions and an intrinsic program in neuroepithelial cells determine cell fate in the developing rat retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Bromodeoxyuridine
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Eye Proteins / analysis
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / embryology
  • Photoreceptor Cells / growth & development
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Retina / embryology
  • Retina / growth & development
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Rod Opsins


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Eye Proteins
  • Rod Opsins
  • Bromodeoxyuridine