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Sangeetha Kandoi, Cassandra Martinez, Dana K. Merriman, Deepak A. Lamba; Characterization of Retinal Development in 13-Lined Ground Squirrels. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2022;11(11):17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.11.11.17.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The cone-dominant, 13-lined ground squirrel (13-LGS) retina mimics the human central retina, but a thorough examination of retinal development in this species has not been reported. Here, the embryonic and postnatal development of the 13-LGS retina was studied to further characterize 13-LGS as a practical alternative animal model for investigating cone-based vision in health and disease.
The spatiotemporal expression of key progenitor and cell type markers was examined in retinas from defined embryonic and postnatal stages using immunohistochemistry. Postnatal gene expression changes were validated by quantitative PCR.
The 13-LGS neuroblastic layer expressed key progenitor markers (Sox2, Vsx2, Pax6, and Lhx2) at E18. Sequential cell fate determination evidenced by the first appearance of cell-type-specific marker labeling was at embryonic stage 18 (E18) with ganglion cells (Brn-3A, HuC/D) and microglia (Iba1); at E22.5 with photoreceptor progenitors (Otx2, recoverin) followed shortly by horizontal and amacrine cells (Lhx1, Oc1) at E24 to E25.5; and at postnatal stage 15 (P15) with bipolar cells (Vsx1, CaBP5) and Müller glia cells (GS, Rlbp1). Photoreceptor maturation indicated by opsin-positive outer segments and peanut agglutinin (PNA) labeling of cone sheaths was completed at the time of eye opening (P21–P24).
The timeline and order of retinal cell development in the 13-LGS generally matches that recorded from other mammalian models but with a stark variation in the proportion of various cell types due to cone-dense photoreceptors.
This thorough examination of an emerging translationally relevant cone-dominant specie provides a baseline for future disease modeling and stem cell approach studies of human vision.
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