Ganglion cells influence the fate of dividing retinal cells in culture

David K. Waid, Steven C. McLoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


The different retinal cell types arise during vertebrate development from a common pool of progenitor cells. The mechanisms responsible for determining the fate of individual retinal cells are, as yet, poorly understood. Ganglion cells are one of the first cell types to be produced in the developing vertebrate retina and few ganglion cells are produced late in development. It is possible that, as the retina matures, the cellular environment changes such that it is not conducive to ganglion cell determination. The present study showed that older retinal cells secrete a factor that inhibits the production of ganglion cells. This was shown by culturing younger retinal cells, the test population, adjacent to various ages of older retinal cells. Increasingly older retinal cells, up to embryonic day 9, were more effective at inhibiting production of ganglion cells in the test cell population. Ganglion cell production was restored when ganglion cells were depleted from the older cell population. This suggests that ganglion cells secrete a factor that actively prevents cells from choosing the ganglion cell fate. This factor appeared to be active in medium conditioned by older retinal cells. Analysis of the conditioned medium established that the factor was heat stable and was present in the < 3 kDa and > 10 kDa fractions. Previous work showed that the neurogenic protein, Notch, might also be active in blocking production of ganglion cells. The present study showed that decreasing Notch expression with an antisense oligonucleotide increased the number of ganglion cells produced in a population of young retinal cells. Ganglion cell production, however, was still inhibited in cultures using antisense oligonucleotide to Notch in medium conditioned by older retinal cells. This suggests that the factor secreted by older retinal cells inhibits ganglion cell production through a different pathway than that mediated by Notch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1059-1066
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998


  • Chick
  • Determination
  • Ganglion cell
  • Induction
  • Notch
  • Retina


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