Zebrafish R-cadherin (Cdh4) controls visual system development and differentiation



In zebrafish, R-cadherin (cadherin-4 or Cdh4) is expressed in the retina and in retinorecipient brain regions, suggesting that Cdh4 functions during visual system development. Cdh4 function was examined during retinogenesis and retinal axon outgrowth using antisense morpholino oligonucleotides and mutant Cdh4 construct expression. In knockdowns, Cdh4 was reduced or absent, eyes were small, and retinae lacked discrete laminae. Increased cell death produced the small eye phenotype. Zn5-, Pax6-, and zpr-1–positive cells were reduced or absent in knockdown retinas but, when present, were in the correct laminae. Cdh4 knockdowns had sparse or absent retinal ganglion cell axons. When present, axons projected contralaterally but lacked fine branching and failed to reach the tectum or arborize the entire tectum. Mutant Cdh4 construct expression during retinal ganglion cell differentiation reduced or ablated neurite formation. Cdh4 is necessary for neural retina survival and differentiation, and required for normal retinotectal projection formation and tectal arborization. Developmental Dynamics 233:930–945, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.