Lineage tracing analysis of cone photoreceptor associated cis-regulatory elements in the developing chicken retina

Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 27;9(1):9358. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45750-7.


During vertebrate retinal development, transient populations of retinal progenitor cells with restricted cell fate choices are formed. One of these progenitor populations expresses the Thrb gene and can be identified by activity of the ThrbCRM1 cis-regulatory element. Short-term assays have concluded that these cells preferentially generate cone photoreceptors and horizontal cells, however developmental timing has precluded an extensive cell type characterization of their progeny. Here we describe the development and validation of a recombinase-based lineage tracing system for the chicken embryo to further characterize the lineage of these cells. The ThrbCRM1 element was found to preferentially form photoreceptors and horizontal cells, as well as a small number of retinal ganglion cells. The photoreceptor cell progeny are exclusively cone photoreceptors and not rod photoreceptors, confirming that ThrbCRM1 progenitor cells are restricted from the rod fate. In addition, specific subtypes of horizontal cells and retinal ganglion cells were overrepresented, suggesting that ThrbCRM1 progenitor cells are not only restricted for cell type, but for cell subtype as well.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Lineage / genetics*
  • Cell Tracking* / methods
  • Chickens
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Targeting
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Homologous Recombination
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Recombinases / metabolism
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism*


  • Recombinases