Roles of Homeobox Genes in Retinal Ganglion Cell Differentiation and Axonal Guidance

  • Qi Zhang
  • David D. EisenstatEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 723)


Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) provide the only output of the retina, with their axons projecting to central nervous system targets. The combinatorial roles of homeodomain (HD) and basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors (TFs) determine RGC differentiation. The Class IV POU-domain proteins, BRN3a, BRN3b, and BRN3c, are all expressed in RGC. However, only Brn3b deletion leads to a major defect in RGC differentiation and axonal guidance. Dlx1/Dlx2 double knockout mice have 33% loss of late-born RGCs. Vax2 is restricted to ventral RGC and maintains ventral RGC axonal projections to their target, the medial rostral superior colliculus (SC). Isl1 defines a distinct but overlapping subpopulation of RGCs with Brn3b, whereas Isl2 specifies the contralateral projection of RGC axons.


Retinal development Retinal ganglion cell Axonal guidance Transcription factor Homeobox gene 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Anatomy and Cell ScienceUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Manitoba Institute of Cell BiologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics and Child HealthUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  4. 4.Department of Biochemistry and Medical GeneticsUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  5. 5.Department of OphthalmologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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