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Single-cell Transcriptional Logic of Cell-Fate Specification and Axon Guidance in Early-Born Retinal Neurons

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Single-cell Transcriptional Logic of Cell-Fate Specification and Axon Guidance in Early-Born Retinal Neurons

Quentin Lo Giudice et al. Development.

Abstract

Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), cone photoreceptors (cones), horizontal cells and amacrine cells are the first classes of neurons produced in the retina. However, an important question is how this diversity of cell states is transcriptionally produced. Here, we profiled 6067 single retinal cells to provide a comprehensive transcriptomic atlas showing the diversity of the early developing mouse retina. RNA velocities unveiled the dynamics of cell cycle coordination of early retinogenesis and define the transcriptional sequences at work during the hierarchical production of early cell-fate specification. We show that RGC maturation follows six waves of gene expression, with older-generated RGCs transcribing increasing amounts of guidance cues for young peripheral RGC axons that express the matching receptors. Spatial transcriptionally deduced features in subpopulations of RGCs allowed us to define novel molecular markers that are spatially restricted. Finally, the isolation of such a spatially restricted population, ipsilateral RGCs, allowed us to identify their molecular identity at the time they execute axon guidance decisions. Together, these data represent a valuable resource shedding light on transcription factor sequences and guidance cue dynamics during mouse retinal development.

Keywords: Axon guidance; Cell-fate specification; Mouse; Neurogenesis; Retinal development; Retinal ganglion cell; Single-cell RNA-seq.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing or financial interests.

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