Expression patterns of Ephs and ephrins throughout retinotectal development in Xenopus laevis

Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Developmental Neurobiology (Impact Factor: 3.37). 04/2012; 72(4):547-63. DOI: 10.1002/dneu.20930
Source: PubMed


The Eph family of receptor tyrosine kinases and their ligands the ephrins play an essential role in the targeting of retinal ganglion cell axons to topographically correct locations in the optic tectum during visual system development. The African claw-toed frog Xenopus laevis is a popular animal model for the study of retinotectal development because of its amenability to live imaging and electrophysiology. Its visual system undergoes protracted growth continuing beyond metamorphosis, yet little is known about ephrin and Eph expression patterns beyond stage 39 when retinal axons first arrive in the tectum. We used alkaline phosphatase fusion proteins of EphA3, ephrin-A5, EphB2, and ephrin-B1 as affinity probes to reveal the expression patterns of ephrin-As, EphAs, ephrin-Bs, and EphBs, respectively. Analysis of brains from stage 40 to adult frog revealed that ephrins and Eph receptors are expressed throughout development. As observed in other species, staining for ephrin-As displayed a high caudal to low rostral expression pattern across the tectum, roughly complementary to the expression of EphAs. In contrast with the prevailing model, EphBs were found to be expressed in the tectum in a high dorsal to low ventral gradient in young animals. In animals with induced binocular tectal innervation, ocular dominance bands of alternating input from the two eyes formed in the tectum; however, ephrin-A and EphA expression patterns were unmodulated and similar to those in normal frogs, confirming that the segregation of axons into eye-specific stripes is not the consequence of a respecification of molecular guidance cues in the tectum.

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