GDF11 controls the timing of progenitor cell competence in developing retina.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1126/science.1110175
The orderly generation of cell types in the developing retina is thought to be regulated by changes in the competence of multipotent progenitors. Here, we show that a secreted factor, growth and differentiation factor 11 (GDF11), controls the numbers of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), as well as amacrine and photoreceptor cells, that form during development. GDF11 does not affect proliferation of progenitors-a major mode of GDF11 action in other tissues-but instead controls duration of expression of Math5, a gene that confers competence for RGC genesis, in progenitor cells. Thus, GDF11 governs the temporal windows during which multipotent progenitors retain competence to produce distinct neural progeny.