The vertebrate retina is a complex structure composed of seven cell types (six neuron and one glia), and all of which originate from a seemingly homogeneous population of proliferative multipotent retinal progenitor cells (RPCs) that exit the cell cycle and differentiate in a spatio-temporally regulated and stereotyped fashion. This neurogenesis process requires intricate genetic regulation involving a combination of cell intrinsic transcription factors and extrinsic signaling molecules, and many critical factors have been identified that influence the timing and composition of the developing retina. Adding complexity to the process, over the past decade, a variety of epigenetic regulatory mechanisms have been shown to influence neurogenesis, and these include changes in histone modifications and the chromatin landscape and changes in DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation patterns. This review summarizes recent findings in the genetic and epigenetic regulation of retinal development, with an emphasis on the zebrafish model system, and it outlines future areas of investigation that will continue to push the field forward into the epigenomics era.
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