Quantification of Normal Cell Death in the Rat Retina: Implications for Clone Composition in Cell Lineage Analysis

Authors

  • James T. Voyvodic,

    Corresponding author
    1. Medical Research Council Developmental Neurobiology Programme, Biology Department, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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      MR Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, 200 Lothrop Street, B-804 PUH, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2582, USA

  • Julia F. Burne,

    1. Medical Research Council Developmental Neurobiology Programme, Biology Department, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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      MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, UK

  • Martin C. Raff

    1. Medical Research Council Developmental Neurobiology Programme, Biology Department, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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      MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, UK


Correspondence to: James T. Voyvodic, MR Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, 200 Lothrop Street, B-804 PUH, Pittsburgh, PA 15213–2582, USA

Abstract

Naturally occurring cell death complicates the analysis of cell lineage studies by making the surviving members of a clone appear more closely related than they actually are. Here we ask how much normal cell death occurs during rat retinal development, and whether that amount of death is sufficient to confuse the analysis of cell lineage relationships. We measure total cell death in the retina by combining relative counts of dead cells with absolute measurements of total cell loss. For most cell types, but not rods, we find that half of the cells generated die during normal retinal development. We use a computer model to quantify the effects of different amounts of cell death in a simulated lineage study. The simulation indicates that 50% cell death means that clonal variability analysed after the cell death period is not necessarily a good indicator of how much variability actually occurs in the underlying lineage.

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