Wiring the embryonic eye to the brain for binocular vision
In higher vertebrates, proper binocular vision depends on the extension of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons at the optic chiasm to the same (ipsilateral) and opposite (contralateral) side of the brain. We have outlined a molecular program of transcription and axon guidance factors distinguishing the ipsilateral and contralateral retinal ganglion cell (RGC) pathways through the optic chiasm and to thalamic targets in the mouse brain. Our recent efforts aim to uncover additional factors that specify the ipsi- and contralateral RGC populations through studying spatiotemporal aspects of their generation and the organization of axons in tracts leading to targets. In addition, to unravel mechanisms of normal retina-to-brain development, we interrogate how cell specification and axon targeting go awry in the albino visual system, in which the lack of melanin leads to a reduction of the ipsilateral projection.