Dynamic changes in optic fiber terminal arbors lead to retinotopic map formation: an in vivo confocal microscopic study

Neuron. 1990 Aug;5(2):159-71. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(90)90306-z.


Dynamic remodeling of retinal ganglion cell terminal arbors has been proposed to contribute to formation of the topographically ordered retinotectal projection. To test this directly, the growth of individual terminal arbors was observed in live X. laevis tadpoles using a confocal microscope to visualize their complex three-dimensional structure. During initial development, nasal and temporal retinal arbors covered overlapping tectal areas. Despite subsequent remodeling, the dimensions and positions of the temporal arbors remained relatively stable. In contrast, the nasal arbors grew caudally, as they extended caudal branches and retracted rostral branches. These results suggest that differences in the remodeling of the nasal and temporal arbors lead to the emergence of retino-topography along the rostrocaudal axis of the tectum. All the terminal arbors were dynamic, including those with stable dimensions, suggesting that continual remodeling of arbors may be a universal feature of neuronal projections.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Cell Division
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology*
  • Superior Colliculi / cytology*
  • Xenopus laevis