Purpose: To identify integrin vitronectin receptor subunit mRNAs in the developing avian retina and to track their expression.
Methods: Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was used to identify integrin vitronectin receptor subunit mRNAs expressed in embryonic chick retina. cDNA clones encoding the beta 5 subunit were isolated and sequenced. Expression patterns of mRNAs encoding alpha v, beta 3, and beta 5 subunits were analyzed using northern analysis and in situ hybridization.
Results: Integrin beta 1, beta 3, and beta 5 subunit mRNA were identified in embryonic day 6 chick retina. The sequence of chicken beta 5 was 77% identical to that of human beta 5, and sequences with known signaling functions were highly conserved. Integrin alpha v, beta 3, and beta 5 mRNAs were expressed throughout the development of the embryonic retina, with the highest levels per retina observed around the embryonic day 9. In situ hybridization showed that both beta 3 and beta 5 were expressed throughout the developing retina, particularly in undifferentiated neuroepithelial precursor cells. At later times, beta 3 was expressed uniformly throughout the retina, whereas beta 5 expression was highest in a band throughout the central retina.
Conclusions: The strong conservation of sequences with known signaling functions in chicken beta 5 suggests that it functions in a manner similar to human beta 5. Spatial expression patterns of vitronectin receptor subunits at early times of development point to a range of possible functions beyond axon outgrowth, including retinoblast proliferation, adhesion, and migration.