Formation of retinal direction-selective circuitry initiated by starburst amacrine cell homotypic contact
Impact statement Selective synapse formation in a retinal motion-sensitive circuit is orchestrated by starburst amacrine cells, which use homotypic interactions to initiate formation of a dendritic scaffold that recruits projections from circuit partners. SUMMARY A common strategy by which developing neurons locate their synaptic partners is through projections to circuit-specific neuropil sublayers. Once established, sublayers serve as a substrate for selective synapse formation, but how sublayers arise during neurodevelopment remains unknown. Here we identify the earliest events that initiate formation of the direction-selective circuit in the inner plexiform layer of mouse retina. We demonstrate that radially-migrating newborn starburst amacrine cells establish homotypic contacts on arrival at the inner retina. These contacts, mediated by the cell-surface protein MEGF10, trigger neuropil innervation resulting in generation of two sublayers comprising starburst-cell dendrites. This dendritic scaffold then recruits projections from circuit partners. Abolishing MEGF10-mediated contacts profoundly delays and ultimately disrupts sublayer formation, leading to broader direction tuning and weaker direction-selectivity in retinal ganglion cells. Our findings reveal a mechanism by which differentiating neurons transition from migratory to mature morphology, and highlight this mechanism’s importance in forming circuit-specific sublayers.
Ray, T; Roy, S; Kozlowski, C; Wang, J; Cafaro, J; Hulbert, S; Wright, C; Field, G; Kay, J
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