During development of the projection from the retina to the brain in the chick, a transient ipsilateral retinotectal projection forms and disappears. This disappearance is coincident with a wave of ganglion cell death in the retina. The contribution of cell death to the disappearance of this projection, as opposed to another mechanism such as axon retraction, was examined. Retinal ganglion cells with a projection to the ipsilateral tectum were retrogradely labeled by injection of long-lasting fluorescent dyes into the tectum prior to the onset of ganglion cell death. Large injections of fast blue labeled approximately 1800 ganglion cells in the ipsilateral retina before the period of cell death began. If the injected embryos were allowed to survive past the peak period of ganglion cell death, the average number of labeled ganglion cells in the ipsilateral retina was reduced by somewhat more than half. It is possible that the remaining labeled ganglion cells projected only to nontectal visual nuclei and were labeled by fast blue that had diffused out of the tectum. This was tested by repeating the study using very localized injections of 1,1'-dioctodecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate or fluorescent microspheres into the tectum. These small injections confirmed that cells with transient projections to the ipsilateral tectum survived past the elimination of this projection. Thus, ipsilaterally projecting ganglion cells have, at most, a slightly greater propensity for death than the average ganglion cell, and elimination of the transient ipsilateral retinotectal projection in chick can be explained only, in part, by the mechanism of cell death. These data contrast with the results of similar studies in rodents, which suggest that cell death is largely, if not solely, responsible for eliminating transient retinal projections.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Journal of Neuroscience|
|State||Published - 1991|