Awakening the regenerative potential of the mammalian retina

Development. 2019 Dec 2;146(23):dev182642. doi: 10.1242/dev.182642.


As with all glial cells, the major role of retinal Müller glia (MG) is to provide essential neuronal support. However, the MG of some non-mammalian species have the additional ability to generate new retinal neurons capable of sight restoration. Unfortunately, mammalian MG do not possess this ability. However, if we could understand the reasons why, we may be able to devise strategies to confer regenerative potential. The recent discovery that the Hippo signaling pathway acts as an intrinsic block to mammalian MG proliferation, along with reports of adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based MG reprogramming and functional photoreceptor differentiation, may indicate a watershed moment in the field of mammalian retinal regeneration. However, as researchers delve deeper into the cellular and molecular mechanisms, and further refine MG reprogramming strategies, we should recall past misinterpretations of data in this field and proceed with caution. Here, we provide a summary of these emerging data and a discussion of technical concerns specific to AAV-mediated reprogramming experiments that must be addressed in order for the field to move forward.

Keywords: Cellular reprogramming; Hippo signaling; Müller glia; Retinal regeneration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Cellular Reprogramming Techniques*
  • Cellular Reprogramming*
  • Dependovirus
  • Ependymoglial Cells / metabolism*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / metabolism*
  • Regeneration*