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Autonomous and non-autonomous Shh signalling mediate the in vivo growth and guidance of mouse retinal ganglion cell axons
Cristina Sánchez-Camacho, Paola Bovolenta


In non-mammalian vertebrates, the relatively homogeneous population of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) differentiates and projects entirely to the contralateral side of the brain under the influence of sonic hedgehog (Shh). In mammals, by contrast, there are two different RGC types: the Zic2-positive ipsilateral projecting and the Isl2-positive contralateral projecting. We asked whether the axons of these two populations respond to Shh and if their response differs. We have also analysed whether midline- and RGC-derived Shh contributes to the growth of the axons in the proximal visual pathway. We show that these two RGC types are characterised by a differential expression of Shh signalling components and that they respond differently to Shh when challenged in vitro. In vivo blockade of Shh activity, however, alters the path and distribution mostly of the contralateral projecting RGC axons at the chiasm, indicating that midline-derived Shh participates in funnelling contralateral visual fibres in this region. Furthermore, interference with Shh signalling in the RGCs themselves causes abnormal growth and navigation of contralateral projecting axons in the proximal portion of the pathway, highlighting a novel cell-autonomous mechanism by which Shh can influence growth cone behaviour.


    • Accepted September 9, 2008.
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