Two Pairs of ON and OFF Retinal Ganglion Cells Are Defined by Intersectional Patterns of Transcription Factor Expression

Cell Rep. 2016 May 31;15(9):1930-44. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.04.069. Epub 2016 May 19.


Visual information is conveyed to the brain by axons of >30 retinal ganglion cell (RGC) types. Characterization of these types is a prerequisite to understanding visual perception. Here, we identify a family of RGCs that we call F-RGCs on the basis of expression of the transcription factor Foxp2. Intersectional expression of Foxp1 and Brn3 transcription factors divides F-RGCs into four types, comprising two pairs, each composed of closely related cells. One pair, F-mini(ON) and F-mini(OFF), shows robust direction selectivity. They are among the smallest RGCs in the mouse retina. The other pair, F-midi(ON) and F-midi(OFF), is larger and not direction selective. Together, F-RGCs comprise >20% of RGCs in the mouse retina, halving the number that remain to be classified and doubling the number of known direction-selective cells. Co-expression of Foxp and Brn3 genes also marks subsets of RGCs in macaques that could be primate homologs of F-RGCs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anisotropy
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Brain / cytology
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Shape
  • Cell Size
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Macaca
  • Mice
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Visual Pathways / metabolism


  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Foxp2 protein, mouse
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors