Retinal axon guidance by region-specific cues in diencephalon

Rebecca Tuttle, Janet E. Braisted, Linda J. Richards, Dennis D.M. O'Leary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Retinal axons show region-specific patterning along the dorsal-ventral axis of diencephalon: retinal axons grow in a compact bundle over hypothalamus, dramatically splay out over thalamus, and circumvent epithalamus as they continue toward the dorsal midbrain. In vitro, retinal axons are repulsed by substrate-bound and soluble activities in hypothalamus and epithalamus, but invade thalamus. The repulsion is mimicked by a soluble floor plate activity. Tenascin and neurocan, extracellular matrix molecules that inhibit retinal axon growth in vitro, are enriched in hypothalamus and epithalamus. Within thalamus, a stimulatory activity is specifically upregulated in target nuclei at the time that retinal axons invade them. These findings suggest that region-specific, axon repulsive and stimulatory activities control retinal axon patterning in the embryonic diencephalon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-801
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998


  • Chemoattraction
  • Chemorepulsion
  • Epithalamus
  • Floor plate
  • Hypothalamus
  • Lateral geniculate nucleus
  • Neurocan
  • Tenascin
  • Visual system development


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