Layer-Specific Developmentally Precise Axon Targeting of Transient Suppressed-by-Contrast Retinal Ganglion Cells

Nai Wen Tien, Carmela Vitale, Tudor C. Badea, Daniel Kerschensteiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The mouse retina encodes diverse visual features in the spike trains of .40 retinal ganglion cell (RGC) types. Each RGC type innervates a specific subset of the .50 retinorecipient brain areas. Our catalog of RGC types and feature representations is nearing completion. Yet, we know little about where specific RGC types send their information. Furthermore, the developmental strategies by which RGC axons choose their targets and pattern their terminal arbors remain obscure. Here, we identify a genetic intersection (Cck-Cre and Brn3cCKOAP) that selectively labels transient Suppressed-by-Contrast (tSbC) RGCs, a member of an evolutionarily conserved functionally mysterious RGC subclass. We find that tSbC RGCs selectively innervate the dorsolateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) and ventrolateral geniculate nucleus (vLGN) of the thalamus, the superior colliculus (SC), and the nucleus of the optic tract (NOT) in mice of either sex. They binocularly innervate dLGN and vLGN but project only contralaterally to SC and NOT. In each target, tSbC RGC axons occupy a specific sublayer, suggesting that they restrict their input to specific circuits. The tSbC RGC axons span the length of the optic tract by birth and remain poised there until they simultaneously innervate their four targets around postnatal day 3. The tSbC RGC axons choose the right targets and establish mature stratification patterns from the outset. This precision is maintained in the absence of Brn3c. Our results provide the first map of SbC inputs to the brain, revealing a narrow target set, unexpected laminar organization, target-specific binocularity, and developmental precision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7213-7221
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 21 2022


  • axon development
  • binocular
  • laminar targeting
  • retinal projections
  • thalamus


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