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Journal Article

Molecular Fingerprinting of On–Off Direction-Selective Retinal Ganglion Cells Across Species and Relevance to Primate Visual Circuits


The ability to detect moving objects is an ethologically salient function. Direction-selective neurons have been identified in the retina, thalamus, and cortex of many species, but their homology has remained unclear. For instance, it is unknown whether direction-selective retinal ganglion cells (DSGCs) exist in primates and, if so, whether they are the equivalent to mouse and rabbit DSGCs. Here, we used a molecular/circuit approach in both sexes to address these issues. In mice, we identify the transcription factor Satb2 (special AT-rich sequence-binding protein 2) as a selective marker for three RGC types: On–Off DSGCs encoding motion in either the anterior or posterior direction, a newly identified type of Off-DSGC, and an Off-sustained RGC type. In rabbits, we find that expression of Satb2 is conserved in On–Off DSGCs; however, it has evolved to include On–Off DSGCs encoding upward and downward motion in addition to anterior and posterior motion. Next, we show that macaque RGCs express Satb2 most likely in a single type. We used rabies virus-based circuit-mapping tools to reveal the identity of macaque Satb2-RGCs and discovered that their dendritic arbors are relatively large and monostratified. Together, these data indicate Satb2-expressing On–Off DSGCs are likely not present in the primate retina. Moreover, if DSGCs are present in the primate retina, it is unlikely that they express Satb2.

Onkar S. Dhande
Benjamin K. Stafford
Katrin Franke
Rana El-Danaf
Kumiko A. Percival
Ann H. Phan
Peichao Li
Bryan J. Hansen
Phong L. Nguyen
Philipp Berens
W. Rowland Taylor
Edward Callaway
Thomas Euler
Andrew D. Huberman
Journal Name
The Journal of Neuroscience
Publication Date
January 2, 2019