Astrocytes follow ganglion cell axons to establish an angiogenic template during retinal development

Matthew L. O'Sullivan, Vanessa M. Puñal, Patrick C. Kerstein, Joseph A. Brzezinski, Tom Glaser, Kevin Wright, Jeremy N. Kay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Immature astrocytes and blood vessels enter the developing mammalian retina at the optic nerve head and migrate peripherally to colonize the entire retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL). Retinal vascularization is arrested in retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a major cause of bilateral blindness in children. Despite their importance in normal development and ROP, the factors that control vascularization of the retina remain poorly understood. Because astrocytes form a reticular network that appears to provide a substrate for migrating endothelial cells, they have long been proposed to guide angiogenesis. However, whether astrocytes do in fact impose a spatial pattern on developing vessels remains unclear, and how astrocytes themselves are guided is unknown. Here we explore the cellular mechanisms that ensure complete retinal coverage by astrocytes and blood vessels in mouse. We find that migrating astrocytes associate closely with the axons of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), their neighbors in the RNFL. Analysis of Robo1; Robo2 mutants, in which RGC axon guidance is disrupted, and Math5 (Atoh7) mutants, which lack RGCs, reveals that RGCs provide directional information to migrating astrocytes that sets them on a centrifugal trajectory. Without this guidance, astrocytes exhibit polarization defects, fail to colonize the peripheral retina, and display abnormal fine-scale spatial patterning. Furthermore, using cell type-specific chemical–genetic tools to selectively ablate astrocytes, we show that the astrocyte template is required for angiogenesis and vessel patterning. Our results are consistent with a model whereby RGC axons guide formation of an astrocytic network that subsequently directs vessel development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1697-1716
Number of pages20
JournalGLIA
Volume65
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

Fingerprint

Ganglia
Astrocytes
Axons
Retinal Ganglion Cells
Retina
Retinopathy of Prematurity
Nerve Fibers
Blood Vessels
Optic Disk
Blindness
Endothelial Cells

Keywords

  • angiogenesis
  • astrocyte
  • migration
  • mouse
  • retinal ganglion cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Cite this

O'Sullivan, M. L., Puñal, V. M., Kerstein, P. C., Brzezinski, J. A., Glaser, T., Wright, K., & Kay, J. N. (2017). Astrocytes follow ganglion cell axons to establish an angiogenic template during retinal development. GLIA, 65(10), 1697-1716. https://doi.org/10.1002/glia.23189

Astrocytes follow ganglion cell axons to establish an angiogenic template during retinal development. / O'Sullivan, Matthew L.; Puñal, Vanessa M.; Kerstein, Patrick C.; Brzezinski, Joseph A.; Glaser, Tom; Wright, Kevin; Kay, Jeremy N.

In: GLIA, Vol. 65, No. 10, 01.10.2017, p. 1697-1716.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

O'Sullivan, ML, Puñal, VM, Kerstein, PC, Brzezinski, JA, Glaser, T, Wright, K & Kay, JN 2017, 'Astrocytes follow ganglion cell axons to establish an angiogenic template during retinal development', GLIA, vol. 65, no. 10, pp. 1697-1716. https://doi.org/10.1002/glia.23189
O'Sullivan ML, Puñal VM, Kerstein PC, Brzezinski JA, Glaser T, Wright K et al. Astrocytes follow ganglion cell axons to establish an angiogenic template during retinal development. GLIA. 2017 Oct 1;65(10):1697-1716. https://doi.org/10.1002/glia.23189
O'Sullivan, Matthew L. ; Puñal, Vanessa M. ; Kerstein, Patrick C. ; Brzezinski, Joseph A. ; Glaser, Tom ; Wright, Kevin ; Kay, Jeremy N. / Astrocytes follow ganglion cell axons to establish an angiogenic template during retinal development. In: GLIA. 2017 ; Vol. 65, No. 10. pp. 1697-1716.
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