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UCSB scientists make strides in vision research
Date:5/20/2011

l. The scientists verified that expression of this gene differs between these strains of mice during the developmental period when horizontal cells are produced. They also showed that the source of this variable expression must be due to a genetic variant within a regulatory region of the gene itself. Finally, they identified such a single nucleotide polymorphism creating an E-box, a DNA sequence bound by a family of transcription factors that have recently been shown to play a role in retinal development.

The team explained that such natural variation in the ratio of nerve cells requires a degree of plasticity in the process of forming neural connectivity, to ensure that the entire visual field is served by neural circuits that mediate our visual abilities. A series of other published and submitted studies from the Reese lab document this very plasticity in different strains of mice and in genetically modified mice.

Efforts to use genetic engineering and stem cell biology to repair diseased retinas depend upon a fuller appreciation of the developmental biology of the retina, explained Reese.

"These particular studies are just one contribution in an enormously complex process," said Reese. "Our fundamental interest is in the development the retina how you 'build' this neural tissue that, when fully mature, will mediate our visual abilities."

Vision research at UCSB has been steadily expanding in recent decades. "Since I arrived here in 1971, UCSB's vision research has grown to include dozens of scientists, in a number of labs, contributing to an explosion of research in the field," said Steven Fisher, professor emeritus in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and professor in the Neuroscience Research Institute.


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Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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