Conventionally, neuronal development is regarded to follow a stereotypic sequence of neurogenesis, migration, and differentiation. We demonstrate that this notion is not a general principle of neuronal development by documenting the timing of mitosis in relation to multiple differentiation events for bipolar cells (BCs) in the zebrafish retina using in vivo imaging. We found that BC progenitors undergo terminal neurogenic divisions while in markedly disparate stages of neuronal differentiation. Remarkably, the differentiation state of individual BC progenitors at mitosis is not arbitrary but matches the differentiation state of post-mitotic BCs in their surround. By experimentally shifting the relative timing of progenitor division and differentiation, we provide evidence that neurogenesis and differentiation can occur independently of each other. We propose that the uncoupling of neurogenesis and differentiation could provide neurogenic programs with flexibility, while allowing for synchronous neuronal development within a continuously expanding cell pool.
- bipolar cells