Müller glia provide essential tensile strength to the developing retina

Ryan B. MacDonald, Owen Randlett, Julia Oswald, Takeshi Yoshimatsu, Kristian Franze, William A. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


To investigate the cellular basis of tissue integrity in a vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) tissue, we eliminated Müller glial cells (MG) from the zebrafish retina. For well over a century, glial cells have been ascribed a mechanical role in the support of neural tissues, yet this idea has not been specifically tested in vivo. We report here that retinas devoid of MG rip apart, a defect known as retinoschisis. Using atomic force microscopy, we show that retinas without MG have decreased resistance to tensile stress and are softer than controls. Laser ablation of MG processes showed that these cells are under tension in the tissue. Thus, we propose that MG act like springs that hold the neural retina together, finally confirming an active mechanical role of glial cells in the CNS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1083
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 28 2015


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