• transcription regulation;
  • ribosome biogenesis;
  • protein synthesis;
  • ocular development;
  • cell proliferation


All cells must make ribosomes, in which rRNA transcription is the rate-limiting step; however, some cells may require more ribosomes than others. Cell-type specific regulation of rRNA synthesis has been largely ignored in the past, because of the inability to measure rRNA transcription rate in situ. Here we map rRNA transcription activity in individual cells in mouse ocular tissues detected by a novel in situ hybridization technique, which detects the full-length transcripts (47S pre-rRNA) as well as various rRNA processing intermediates. In the adult mouse eye, the corneal and lens epithelia and some retinal neurons contain a higher level of 47S pre-rRNA and rRNA processing intermediates, which are regulated developmentally in neonates prior to eye opening. In the cornea and lens epithelia, the higher rRNA level of 47S rRNA correlates with cell proliferation, which is consistent with the notion that dividing cells require more protein synthesis. Interestingly, in some retinal neurons, the high level of 47S pre-rRNA does not correlate with mature rRNA accumulation or protein synthesis, suggesting the existence of unappreciated biochemical needs of these cells. Developmental Dynamics 235:1984–1993, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.