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Diversification of multipotential postmitotic mouse retinal ganglion cell precursors into discrete types.


The genesis of broad neuronal classes from multipotential neural progenitor cells has been extensively studied, but less is known about the diversification of a single neuronal class into multiple types. We used single-cell RNA-seq to study how newly born (postmitotic) mouse retinal ganglion cell (RGC) precursors diversify into ~45 discrete types. Computational analysis provides evidence that RGC transcriptomic type identity is not specified at mitotic exit, but acquired by gradual, asynchronous restriction of postmitotic multipotential precursors. Some types are not identifiable until a week after they are generated. Immature RGCs may be specified to project ipsilaterally or contralaterally to the rest of the brain before their type identity emerges. Optimal transport inference identifies groups of RGC precursors with largely nonoverlapping fates, distinguished by selectively expressed transcription factors that could act as fate determinants. Our study provides a framework for investigating the molecular diversification of discrete types within a neuronal class.

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