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The influence of spontaneous and visual activity on the development of direction selectivity maps in mouse retina.


In mice, retinal direction selectivity is organized in a map that aligns to the body and gravitational axes of optic flow, and little is known about how this map develops. We find direction selectivity maps are largely present at eye opening and develop normally in the absence of visual experience. Remarkably, in mice lacking the beta2 subunit of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (β2-nAChR-KO), which exhibit drastically reduced cholinergic retinal waves in the first postnatal week, selectivity to horizontal motion is absent while selectivity to vertical motion remains. We tested several possible mechanisms that could explain the loss of horizontal direction selectivity in β2-nAChR-KO mice (wave propagation bias, FRMD7 expression, starburst amacrine cell morphology), but all were found to be intact when compared with WT mice. This work establishes a role for retinal waves in the development of asymmetric circuitry that mediates retinal direction selectivity via an unknown mechanism.

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