Spatiotemporal gene expression patterns reveal molecular relatedness between retinal laminae

J Comp Neurol. 2020 Apr 1;528(5):729-755. doi: 10.1002/cne.24784. Epub 2019 Oct 31.


In several areas of the central nervous system, neurons are regionally organized into groups or layers that carry out specific activities. In this form of patterning, neurons of distinct types localize their cell bodies to just one or a few of the layers within a structure. However, little is known about whether diverse neuron types within a lamina share molecular features that coordinate their organization. To begin to identify such candidates, we used the laminated murine retina to screen 92 lacZ reporter lines available through the Knockout Mouse Project. Thirty-two of these displayed reporter expression in restricted subsets of inner retina neurons. We then identified the spatiotemporal expression patterns of these genes at key developmental stages. This uncovered several that were heavily enriched in development but reduced in adulthood, including the transcriptional regulator Hmga1. An additional set of genes displayed maturation associated laminar enrichment. Among these, we identified Bbox1 as a novel gene that specifically labels all neurons in the ganglion cell layer but is largely excluded from otherwise molecularly similar neurons in the inner retina. Finally, we established Dbn1 as a new marker enriched in amacrines and Fmnl3 as a marker for subsets of αRGCs. Together, these data provide a spatiotemporal map for laminae-specific molecules and suggest that diverse neuron types within a lamina share coordinating molecular features that may inform their fate or function.

Keywords: development; ganglion cells; lamination; neuron; retina.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Retinal Neurons / cytology*