Early and rapid targeting of eye-specific axonal projections to the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus in the fetal macaque

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Neuroscience








Axon guidance; dLGN; Eye-specific; Primate; Retinogeniculate; Visual system


The emergence of eye-specific axonal projections to the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) is a well established model system for exploring the mechanisms underlying afferent targeting during development. Using modern tract tracing methods, we examined the development of this feature in the macaque, an Old World Primate with a visual system similar to that of humans. Cholera toxin β fragment conjugated to Alexa 488 was injected into the vitreous of one eye, and CTβ conjugated to Alexa 594 into the other eye of embryos at known gestational ages. On embryonic day 69 (E69), which is ∼100 d before birth, inputs from the two eyes were extensively intermingled in the dLGN. However, even at this early age, portions of the dLGN were preferentially innervated by the right or left eye, and segregation is complete within the dorsalmost layers 5 and 6. By E78, eye-specific segregation is clearly established throughout the parvocellular division of the dLGN, and substantial ocular segregation is present in the magnocellular division. By E84, segregation of left and right eye axons is essentially complete, and the six eye-specific domains that characterize the mature macaque dLGN are clearly discernable. These findings reveal that targeting of eye-specific axonal projections in the macaque occurs much earlier and more rapidly than previously reported. This segregation process is completed before the reported onset of ganglion cell axon loss and retino-dLGN synapse elimination, suggesting that, in the primate, eye-specific targeting occurs independent of traditional forms of synaptic plasticity. Copyright © 2005 Society for Neuroscience.

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