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MicroRNA Signatures of the Developing Primate Fovea.


Rod and cone photoreceptors differ in their shape, photopigment expression, synaptic connection patterns, light sensitivity, and distribution across the retina. Although rods greatly outnumber cones, human vision is mostly dependent on cone photoreceptors since cones are essential for our sharp visual acuity and color discrimination. In humans and other primates, the fovea centralis (fovea), a specialized region of the central retina, contains the highest density of cones. Despite the vast importance of the fovea for human vision, the molecular mechanisms guiding the development of this region are largely unknown. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small post-transcriptional regulators known to orchestrate developmental transitions and cell fate specification in the retina. Here, we have characterized the transcriptional landscape of the developing rhesus monkey retina. Our data indicates that non-human primate fovea development is significantly accelerated compared to the equivalent retinal region at the other side of the optic nerve head, as described previously. Notably, we also identify several miRNAs differentially expressed in the presumptive fovea, including miR-15b-5p, miR-342-5p, miR-30b-5p, miR-103-3p, miR-93-5p as well as the miRNA cluster miR-183/-96/-182. Interestingly, miR-342-5p is enriched in the nasal primate retina and in the peripheral developing mouse retina, while miR-15b is enriched in the temporal primate retina and increases over time in the mouse retina in a central-to-periphery gradient. Together our data constitutes the first characterization of the developing rhesus monkey retinal miRNome and provides novel datasets to attain a more comprehensive understanding of foveal development.

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