Bullwhip neurons in the retina regulate the size and shape of the eye.
ABSTRACT Bullwhip and mini-bullwhip cells are unconventional types of retinal neurons that utilize the neuropeptides glucagon, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) and substance P. These cells have been implicated in regulating the proliferation of neural progenitors in the circumferential marginal zone (CMZ) of the chicken retina. The purpose of this study was to investigate the roles of the bullwhip cells in regulating ocular size and shape. We found that intravitreal delivery of colchicine at postnatal day 7 destroys the vast majority (approximately 98%) of the bullwhip and mini-bullwhip cells and their peptidergic terminals that are concentrated in the CMZ near the equator of the eye. Interestingly, colchicine-treatment resulted in excessive ocular growth that involved the expansion of equatorial diameter, but not axial length. Intraocular injections of glucagon completely prevented the equatorial expansion that occurs with colchicine-treatment. In eyes with undamaged retinas, exogenous glucagon suppressed equatorial eye growth, whereas glucagon receptor antagonists caused excessive equatorial growth. Furthermore, visual stimuli that increase or decrease rates of ocular growth caused a down- or up-regulation, respectively, of the immediate early gene Egr1 in the bullwhip cells; indicating that the activity of the bullwhip cells is regulated by growth-guiding visual cues. We found that the glucagon receptor was expressed by cells in the fibrous and cartilaginous sclera in equatorial regions of the eye. Taken together, these findings suggest that glucagon peptide released from the terminals of the bullwhip and mini-bullwhip cells regulates the growth of the equatorial sclera in a vision-dependent manner. Although the bullwhip and mini-bullwhip cells are not abundant, less than 1000 cells per retina, their influence on the development of the eye is substantial and includes vision-guided ocular growth.
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ABSTRACT: We found earlier that 42 day-old Egr-1 knockout mice had longer eyes and a more myopic refractive error compared to their wild-types. To identify genes that could be responsible for the temporarily enhanced axial eye growth, a microarray analysis was performed in knockout and wild-type mice at the postnatal ages of 30 and 42 days. The retinas of homozygous and wild-type Egr-1 knockout mice (Taconic, Ry, Denmark) were prepared for RNA isolation (RNeasy Mini Kit, Qiagen) at the age of 30 or 42 days, respectively (n=12 each). Three retinas were pooled and labeled cRNA was made. The samples were hybridized to Affymetrix GeneChip Mouse Genome 430 2.0 Arrays. Hybridization signals were calculated using GC-RMA normalization. Genes were identified as differentially expressed if they showed a fold-change (FC) of at least 1.5 and a p-value <0.05. A false-discovery rate of 5% was applied. Ten genes with potential biologic relevance were examined further with semiquantitative real-time RT-PCR. Comparing mRNA expression levels between wild-type and homozygous Egr-1 knockout mice, we found 73 differentially expressed genes at the age of 30 days and 135 genes at the age of 42 days. Testing for differences in gene expression between the two ages (30 versus 42 days), 54 genes were differently expressed in wild-type mice and 215 genes in homozygous animals. Based on three networks proposed by Ingenuity pathway analysis software, nine differently expressed genes in the homozygous Egr-1 knockout mice were chosen for further validation by real-time RT-PCR, three genes in each network. In addition, the gene that was most prominently regulated in the knockout mice, compared to wild-type, at both 30 days and 42 days of age (protocadherin beta-9 [Pcdhb9]), was tested with real-time RT-PCR. Changes in four of the ten genes could be confirmed by real-time RT-PCR: nuclear prelamin A recognition factor (Narf), oxoglutarate dehydrogenase (Ogdh), selenium binding protein 1 (Selenbp1), and Pcdhb9. Except for Pcdhb9, the genes whose mRNA expression levels were validated were listed in one of the networks proposed by Ingenuity pathway analysis software. In addition to these genes, the software proposed several key-regulators which did not change in our study: retinoic acid, vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), FBJ murine osteosarcoma viral oncogene homolog (cFos), and others. Identification of genes that are differentially regulated during the development period between postnatal day 30 (when both homozygous and wild-type mice still have the same axial length) and day 42 (where the difference in eye length is apparent) could improve the understanding of mechanisms for the control of axial eye growth and may lead to potential targets for pharmacological intervention. With the aid of pathway-analysis software, a coarse picture of possible biochemical pathways could be generated. Although the mRNA expression levels of proteins proposed by the software, like VEGF, FOS, retinoic acid (RA) receptors, or cellular RA binding protein, did not show any changes in our experiment, these molecules have previously been implicated in the signaling cascades controlling axial eye growth. According to the pathway-analysis software, they represent links between several proteins whose mRNA expression was changed in our study.Molecular vision 01/2009; 15:2720-39. · 2.20 Impact Factor