Mutations in the human cone-rod homeobox (Crx) gene are associated with retinal dystrophies such as Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), characterized by complete or near complete absence of vision from birth. The photoreceptors of Crx-/- mice lack outer segments, and therefore cannot capture light signals through rods and cones, thus resulting in a lack of normal retinal ganglion cell activity from birth. Using specific antibodies to subsets of neurons and markers of activity, we examined the impact of this absence of sensory input on the development of the primary visual cortex (V1) in early postnatal Crx-/- mice, before wiring of the visual system is complete, and in adulthood. We revealed that Crx-/- mice did not exhibit gross anatomical differences in V1; however, they exhibited significantly fewer calcium-binding protein (parvalbumin and calbindin-D28k) expressing interneurons, as well as reduced nonphosphorylated neurofilament expression in V1. These results reveal that the Crx mutation and lack of light stimulation through the photoreceptor pathway regulate the development and phenotype of different neuronal populations in V1 but not its general morphology. We conclude, therefore, that photoreceptor-mediated visual input during development is crucial for the normal postnatal development and maturation of subsets of cortical neurons.
|Pages (from-to)||886 - 898|
|Number of pages||12|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|