Analysis of mouse EphA knockins and knockouts suggests that retinal axons programme target cells to form ordered retinotopic maps

David Willshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

I present a novel analysis of abnormal retinocollicular maps in mice in which the distribution of EphA receptors over the retina has been modified by knockin and/or knockout of these receptor types. My analysis shows that in all these cases, whereas the maps themselves are discontinuous, the graded distribution of EphA over the nasotemporal axis of the retina is recreated within the pattern of axonal terminations across rostrocaudal colliculus. This suggests that the guiding principle behind the formation of ordered maps of nerve connections between vertebrate retina and superior colliculus, or optic tectum, is that axons carrying similar amounts of Eph receptor terminate near to one another on the target structure. I show how the previously proposed marker induction model embodies this principle and predicts these results. I then describe a new version of the model in which the properties of the markers, or labels, are based on those of the Eph receptors and their associated ligands, the ephrins. I present new simulation results, showing the development of maps between two-dimensional structures, exploring the role of counter-gradients of labels across the target and confirming that the model reproduces the retinocollicular maps found in EphA knockin/knockout mice. I predict that abnormal distributions of label within the retina lead to abnormal distributions of label over the target, so that in each of the types of knockin/knockout mice analysed, there will be a different distribution of labels over the target structure. This mechanism could be responsible for the flexibility with which neurons reorganise their connections during development and the degree of precision in the final map. Activity-based mechanisms would play a role only at a later stage of development to remove the overlap between individual retinal projection fields, such as in the development of patterns of ocular dominance stripes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2705-2717
Number of pages13
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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