Early onset of phenotype and cell patterning in the embryonic zebrafish retina

Development. 1990 Jul;109(3):567-76. doi: 10.1242/dev.109.3.567.


The regular arrangement of retinal cone cells in a mosaic pattern is a common feature of teleosts. In the zebrafish, Brachydanio rerio, the retinal cone mosaic comprises parallel rows consisting of a repeating motif of four cone types. In order to elucidate the temporal and spatial aspects of the genesis of the cone mosaic in the developing retina, we generated a monoclonal antibody that specifically binds to the double cone photoreceptor of the adult. We first saw staining in the developing retina with this antibody, FRet 43, at 48 hours postfertilization, the time at which the first photoreceptor cells undergo their final mitotic division. We then injected embryonic fish with the thymidine analog, 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU), confirming with a double-labeling experiment that the onset of FRet 43 antigenicity occurs within three hours of the cellular division that generates the double cone photoreceptors. Then we stained tangential sections of the 54-hour embryonic retina with FRet 43, further showing that cells devoid of staining alternate with stained pairs of cells in a pattern that is consistent with the arrangement of photoreceptors in the adult cone mosaic. These results indicate that a marker of the double cone phenotype is expressed at approximately the same time as cellular birthday and that the mosaic patterning is present within 6 hours of this expression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cyprinidae / genetics*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Phenotype
  • Photoreceptor Cells / embryology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / ultrastructure
  • Retina / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / genetics*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Bromodeoxyuridine