Melanoblasts Populate the Mouse Choroid Earlier in Development Than Previously Described

Paul G. McMenamin, Graham T. Shields, Yashar Seyed-Razavi, Helen Kalirai, Robert H. Insall, Laura M. Machesky, Sarah E. Coupland

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Purpose: Human choroidal melanocytes become evident in the last trimester of development, but very little is known about them. To better understand normal and diseased choroidal melanocyte biology we examined their precursors, melanoblasts (MB), in mouse eyes during development, particularly their relation to the developing vasculature and immune cells. Methods: Naïve B6(Cg)-Tyrc-2J/J albino mice were used between embryonic (E) day 15.5 and postnatal (P) day 8, with adult controls. Whole eyes, posterior segments, or dissected choroidal wholemounts were stained with antibodies against tyrosinase-related protein 2, ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule-1 or isolectin B4, and examined by confocal microscopy. Immunoreactive cell numbers in the choroid were quantified with Imaris. One-way ANOVA with Tukey's post hoc test assessed statistical significance. Results: Small numbers of MB were present in the presumptive choroid at E15.5 and E18.5. The density significantly increased between E18.5 (381.4 ± 45.8 cells/mm2) and P0 (695.2 ± 87.1 cells/mm2; P = 0.032). In postnatal eyes MB increased in density and formed multiple layers beneath the choriocapillaris. MB in the periocular mesenchyme preceded the appearance of vascular structures at E15.5. Myeloid cells (Ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule-1-positive) were also present at high densities from this time, and attained adult-equivalent densities by P8 (556.4 ± 73.6 cells/mm2). Conclusions: We demonstrate that choroidal MB and myeloid cells are both present at very early stages of mouse eye development (E15.5). Although MB and vascularization seemed to be unlinked early in choroidal development, they were closely associated at later stages. MB did not migrate into the choroid in waves, nor did they have a consistent relationship with nerves.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • melanoblasts
  • melanocytes
  • uveal tract
  • choroid
  • development
  • migration

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