The Retinal Ganglion Cell Transportome Identifies Proteins Transported to Axons and Presynaptic Compartments in the Visual System In Vivo

Cell Rep. 2019 Aug 13;28(7):1935-1947.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.07.037.


The brain processes information and generates cognitive and motor outputs through functions of spatially organized proteins in different types of neurons. More complete knowledge of proteins and their distributions within neuronal compartments in intact circuits would help in the understanding of brain function. We used unbiased in vivo protein labeling with intravitreal NHS-biotin for discovery and analysis of endogenous axonally transported proteins in the visual system using tandem mass spectrometric proteomics, biochemistry, and both light and electron microscopy. Purification and proteomic analysis of biotinylated peptides identified ∼1,000 proteins transported from retinal ganglion cells into the optic nerve and ∼575 biotinylated proteins recovered from presynaptic compartments of lateral geniculate nucleus and superior colliculus. Approximately 360 biotinylated proteins were differentially detected in the two retinal targets. This study characterizes axonally transported proteins in the healthy adult visual system by analyzing proteomes from multiple compartments of retinal ganglion cell projections in the intact brain.

Keywords: DiDBiT; NHS-biotin; axon transport; electron microscopy; lateral geniculate nucleus; optic nerve; protein labeling; proteomics; retinal ganglion cell; superior colliculus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport*
  • Male
  • Optic Nerve / cytology
  • Optic Nerve / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism*
  • Visual Pathways / cytology
  • Visual Pathways / metabolism*


  • Proteome