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Keywords:

  • lineage;
  • competence;
  • temporal identity;
  • cell fate;
  • cell specification;
  • development

Abstract

Background: We showed previously that the transcription factor Ikaros is expressed in early but not late retinal progenitors cells (RPCs), and is necessary and sufficient for the production of early-born neurons. Preliminary evidence using retinal explant cultures qualitatively suggested that Ikaros-positive RPCs might share a common lineage with Ikaros-negative RPCs. Results: To explore further this question in vivo in a quantitative manner, we generated BAC transgenic mouse lines expressing Cre recombinase under the regulatory elements of the Ikaros gene, and crossed them with Cre reporter lines. Different transgenic lines labeled a variable number of RPCs, resulting in either dense or sparse radial arrays of reporter-positive progenies. Analysis of over 800 isolated cell arrays, which are most likely clones, confirmed that Ikaros-expressing RPCs generate both early- and late-born cell types in the same lineage, and that the overall cell composition of the arrays closely resembles that of the population of the mature retina. Interestingly, another sparse line did not label arrays, but appeared to specifically reflect Ikaros postmitotic expression in amacrine and ganglion cells. Conclusions: These mouse lines confirm the unbiased potential of the Ikaros lineage in vivo and provide novel tools for clonal lineage tracing and single neuron tracking in the retina. Developmental Dynamics, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.