In mammals with binocular vision, retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons from each eye project to eye-specific domains in the contralateral and ipsilateral dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN), underpinning disparity-based stereopsis. Although domain-specific axon guidance cues that discriminate contralateral and ipsilateral RGC axons have long been postulated as a key mechanism for development of the eye-specific retinogeniculate projection, the molecular nature of such cues has remained elusive. Here, we show that the extracellular glycoprotein Nell2 (neural epidermal growth factor-like-like 2) is expressed in the dorsomedial region of the dLGN, which ipsilateral RGC axons terminate in and contralateral axons avoid. In Nell2 mutant mice, contralateral RGC axons abnormally invaded the ipsilateral domain of the dLGN, and ipsilateral axons terminated in partially fragmented patches, forming a mosaic pattern of contralateral and ipsilateral axon-termination zones. In vitro, Nell2 exerted inhibitory effects on contralateral, but not ipsilateral, RGC axons. These results provide evidence that Nell2 acts as a domain-specific positional label in the dLGN that discriminates contralateral and ipsilateral RGC axons, and that it plays essential roles in the establishment of the eye-specific retinogeniculate projection.
Nakamoto, Chizu; Durward, Elaine; Horie, Masato; and Nakamoto, Masaru, "Nell2 regulates the contralateral-versus-ipsilateral visual projection as a domain-specific positional cue" (2019). Biology Faculty Publications. 42.