The role of nitric oxide in development of topographic precision in the retinotectal projection of chick

H. H. Wu, D. J. Selski, E. E. El-Fakahany, S. C. McLoon

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29 Scopus citations


The axonal projection from the retina to the tectum exhibits a precise topographic order in the mature chick such that neighboring ganglion cells send axons to neighboring termination zones in the contralateral tectum. The initial pattern formed during development is much less organized and is refined to the adult pattern during a discrete period of development. Refinement includes elimination of radically aberrant projections, such as those from the temporal side of the retina to posterior regions of the tectum, as well as a more subtle improvement in the topographic precision of the projection. The enzyme that synthesizes nitric oxide is expressed at high levels in the tectum during the developmental period in which the topography improves. Pharmacological blockade of nitric oxide synthesis during this period prevented elimination of topographically inappropriate retinotectal projections in a dose-dependent manner. This effect could not be duplicated by treatment of embryos with a vasoconstrictor, indicating that vascular changes were not a factor. These results show that nitric oxide is involved in refinement of the topography of the retinotectal projection as well as in other aspects of refinement of this projection in developing chick.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4318-4325
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2001


  • Neuronal development
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Pattern formation
  • Refinement of connections
  • Retina
  • Tectum


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