Proneural gene ash1 promotes amacrine cell production in the chick retina

Weiming Mao, Run Tao Yan, Shu Zhen Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


The diverse types of neurons and Midler glia in the vertebrate retina are believed to arise from common progenitor cells. To better understand how neural diversity is achieved during retinal neurogenesis, we examined the function of ash1, a proneural bHLH gene expressed in progenitor cells throughout retinal neurogenesis. Published studies using retinal explant culture derived from knockout mice concluded that ashl is required for the production of late-born neurons, including bipolar cells. In this study, gain-of-function experiments were carried out in ovo in embryonic chick retina. In the developing chick retina, expression of ash1 temporally overlapped with, but spatially differed from, the expression of ngn2, also a proneural gene expressed in progenitor cells throughout retinal neurogenesis. Retrovirus-driven overexpression of ash1 in the developing chick retina decreased the progenitor population (BrdU + or expressing ngn2), expanded the amacrine population (AP2α + or Pax6 +), and reduced bipolar (chx10 mRNA +) and Müller glial (vimentin +) populations. Photoreceptor deficiency occurred after the completion of neurogenesis. The number of ganglion cells, which are born first during retinal neurogenesis, remained unchanged. Similar overexpression of ngn2 did not produce discernible changes in retinal neurogenesis, nor in ash1 expression. These results suggest that ash1 promotes the production of amacrine cells and thus may participate in a regulatory network governing neural diversity in the chick retina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-104
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopmental Neurobiology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Amacrine cells
  • Neurogenesis
  • Proneural gene
  • Retina
  • Transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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