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Keywords:

  • retinal projections;
  • geniculate body;
  • pretectum;
  • superior colliculus;
  • cholera toxin subunit b (CTB);
  • rodent;
  • Nile grass rat;
  • Arvicanthis niloticus

Abstract

The Nile grass rat (Arvicanthis niloticus) has a high proportion of cone photoreceptors (∼30–40%) compared with that in the common laboratory mouse and rat (∼1–3%) and may prove a preferable murine model with which to study cone-driven information processing in retina and primary visual centers. However, other than regions involved in circadian control, little is known about the retinorecipient structures in this rodent. We undertook a detailed analysis of the retinal projections as revealed after intravitreal injection of the anterograde tracer cholera toxin subunit B. Retinal efferents were evaluated in 45 subcortical structures. Contralateral projections were always dominant. Major contralateral inputs consisted of the suprachiasmatic nucleus, dorsolateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN), intergeniculate leaflet, ventral geniculate nucleus (magnocellular part), lateroposterior thalamic nucleus, all six pretectal nuclei, superficial layers of the superior colliculus (SC), and the main nuclei of the accessory optic system. Terminals from the contralateral eye were also localized in an unnamed field rostromedial to the dLGN as well as in the subgeniculate thalamic nucleus. Ipsilateral inputs were found mainly in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, dLGN, intergeniculate leaflet, internal sector of the magnocellular part of the ventral geniculate nucleus, olivary pretectal nucleus, and SC optic layer. Retinal afferents were not detected in the basal forebrain or the dorsal raphe nucleus. Morphometric measurements revealed that the superficial layers of the SC are disproportionately enlarged relative to other retinorecipient regions and brain size compared with rats and mice. We suggest that this reflects the selective projection of cone-driven retinal ganglion cells to the SC. J. Comp. Neurol. 521:1699–1726, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.