The mechanisms by which retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) make specific connections during development is an intense area of research and have served as a model for understanding the general principles of circuit wiring. As such, genetic tools allowing for specific recombination in RGCs are critical to further our understanding of the cell-specific roles of different genes during these processes. However, many RGC-specific Cre lines have drawbacks, due to their broad expression in other cell types and/or retinorecipient regions or lack of expression in broad swaths of the retina. Here, we characterize a Cre BAC transgenic line driven by elements of the cholinergic receptor nicotinic beta 3 subunit (Chrnb3). We show that Cre expression is restricted to RGCs in the retina and sparsely expressed in the brain, importantly excluding retinorecipient regions. Furthermore, Chrnb3-Cre mice label a wide variety of RGCs distributed throughout the retina and Cre activity is detected embryonically, shortly following RGC differentiation. Finally, we find that Chrnb3-Cre-labeled RGCs innervate multiple retinorecipient areas that serve both image-forming and nonimage forming functions. Thus, this genetic tool will be of broad use to investigators studying the RGC-specific contributions of genes to visual circuit development.
Keywords: Chrnb3; Cre; retinal ganglion cell; retinal targeting.
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.