Routing of Axons at the Optic Chiasm

Ipsilateral Projections and Their Development
  • Sally G. Hoskins
Part of the Perspectives in Vision Research book series (PIVR)

Abstract

The central mystery of brain development is how the precise point-to-point connectivity of billions of neurons is achieved. An important aspect of this problem concerns the pathfinding behavior of axons: What determines the branch taken at each fork of a pathway? In the developing visual system, retinal ganglion cell axons from the two eyes intersect below the diencephalon, forming the optic chiasm. Here some axons continue in the same direction to innervate the opposite side of the brain, while others turn to innervate the same side, making the chiasm a major trajectory choice point. Throughout the developing nervous system, growing axons are confronted with a series of such choice points as they move toward and synapse with specific targets. The rules governing such choices are poorly understood. Understanding how axons choose which way to go in the optic chiasm may help to elucidate how fibers in general find their way to their targets. In the developing visual system of vertebrates, large numbers of fibers are confronted with the same ipsilateral/contralateral choice; the choice is made in a structure physically separate from the brain and free of other fiber tracts, and the eyes in many species are accessible for experimental manipulation during embryogenesis. Thus, this system is a powerful one for exploration of the rules that regulate laterality choice.

Keywords

Migration Dust Tyrosine Shrinkage Retina 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sally G. Hoskins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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