Single-Cell RNA-Seq Analysis of Retinal Development Identifies NFI Factors as Regulating Mitotic Exit and Late-Born Cell Specification

Brian S. Clark, Genevieve L. Stein-O'Brien, Fion Shiau, Gabrielle H. Cannon, Emily Davis-Marcisak, Thomas Sherman, Clayton P. Santiago, Thanh V. Hoang, Fatemeh Rajaii, Rebecca E. James-Esposito, Richard M. Gronostajski, Elana J. Fertig, Loyal A. Goff, Seth Blackshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

244 Scopus citations


Precise temporal control of gene expression in neuronal progenitors is necessary for correct regulation of neurogenesis and cell fate specification. However, the cellular heterogeneity of the developing CNS has posed a major obstacle to identifying the gene regulatory networks that control these processes. To address this, we used single-cell RNA sequencing to profile ten developmental stages encompassing the full course of retinal neurogenesis. This allowed us to comprehensively characterize changes in gene expression that occur during initiation of neurogenesis, changes in developmental competence, and specification and differentiation of each major retinal cell type. We identify the NFI transcription factors (Nfia, Nfib, and Nfix) as selectively expressed in late retinal progenitor cells and show that they control bipolar interneuron and Müller glia cell fate specification and promote proliferative quiescence. We use single-cell RNA-seq analysis to comprehensively profile gene expression during mouse retinal development. We find major differences between early and late-stage, as well as primary and neurogenic, progenitors. We also find that NFI factors control cell-cycle exit and generation of late-born cell types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1126.e5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 19 2019


  • CoGAPS
  • Müller glia
  • cell fate
  • development
  • neural progenitor
  • neurogenesis
  • photoreceptor
  • proliferation
  • retina
  • scRNA-seq
  • single-cell RNA-sequencing


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