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Retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptor maturation in a wallaby, the Quokka

Fleming, P.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-0626-3851, Braekevelt, C.R., Harman, A.M. and Beazley, L.D. (1996) Retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptor maturation in a wallaby, the Quokka. The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 370 (1). pp. 47-60.

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Cell generation and the early stages of maturation of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and photoreceptors were examined in a marsupial, the quokka, Setonix brachyurus. Results are presented for animals aged up to postnatal day (P)250. RPE cell generation was studied by analysis of cell number from wholemounted retinae and by tritiated thymidine (3HThy) autoradiography in sectioned material. For 3HThy autoradiography, quokkas aged P1–P200 were injected with 3HThy and killed either 6–20 hours later (pulse-kill) or at P100 or P250 (pulse-leave). The extent of pigmentation of the RPE sheet was examined from sections of embryonic and early postnatal stages. Retinae from animals aged P5 to P160 were also examined at the electron microscope. By P100, RPE cell number is within the range found in adults. New RPE cells are generated in a peripheral band which moves outwards as cells leave the cell cycle in more central locations. RPE cells thus complete their last cell division in a centre-to-periphery wave centred about the optic nerve head. At any given retinal location, RPE cells complete their last cell division earlier than the overlying layers of the neural retina. Cells of the RPE rapidly develop a mature morphology. For example, melanin granules are observed at P5 and Verhoeff's membrane (the terminal bar complex) is evident by P25. By contrast, photoreceptor development in this species is protracted; cone inner segments are observed by P40, whilst the first rod inner segments are observed at P60. Despite being generated earlier, morphological maturation of the cones appears retarded and prolonged compared with that of the rods. The last stages of RPE cell maturation occur late in development, in synchrony with the generation of rods.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Copyright: © 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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