Developmental neurobiology

Ephrin-As are required for the topographic mapping but not laminar choice of physiologically distinct RGC types.

PMID 25649160


In the retinocollicular projection, the axons from functionally distinct retinal ganglion cell (RGC) types form synapses in a stereotypical manner along the superficial to deep axis of the superior colliculus (SC). Each lamina contains an orderly topographic map of the visual scene but different laminae receive inputs from distinct sets of RGCs, and inputs to each lamina are aligned with the others to integrate parallel streams of visual information. To determine the relationship between laminar organization and topography of physiologically defined RGC types, we used genetic and anatomical axon tracing techniques in wild type and ephrin-A mutant mice. We find that adjacent RGCs of the same physiological type can send axons to both ectopic and normal topographic locations, supporting a penetrance model for ephrin-A independent mapping cues. While the overall laminar organization in the SC is unaffected in ephrin-A2/A5 double mutant mice, analysis of the laminar locations of ectopic terminations shows that the topographic maps of different RGC types are misaligned. These data lend support to the hypothesis that the retinocollicular projection is a superimposition of a number of individual two-dimensional topographic maps that originate from specific types of RGCs, require ephrin-A signaling, and form independently of the other maps.