N-Cadherin is essential for retinal lamination in the zebrafish


  • B. Erdmann
  • F.P. Kirsch
  • F.G. Rathjen
  • M.I. More


  • Developmental Dynamics


  • Dev Dyn 226 (3): 570-577


  • N-Cadherin is one of the major Ca2+-dependent cell adhesion proteins in the developing nervous system. Here, we analyze eye development in the zebrafish N-cadherin loss-of-function mutant parachutepaR2.10 (pacPaR2.10). The zebrafish visual system is fully developed by the time pacpaR2.10 mutants show lethality at day 5. Already at 24 hr postfertilization (hpf), mutant retinal cells are more disorganized and more rounded than in wild-type. At later stages, mutant retinae display a severe lamination defect with rosette formation (mostly islands of plexiform layer tissue surrounded by inner nuclear layer or photoreceptor cells), even though all major classes of cell types appear to be present as determined by histology. Of interest, electron microscopy reveals that the islands of plexiform layer tissue contain a normal amount of synapses with normal morphology. Although mutant photoreceptor cells are sometimes deformed, all typical structural components are present, including the membranous discs for rhodopsin storage. The lens fibers of the pacpaR2.10 mutants develop completely normally, but in some cases, lens epithelial cells round up and become multilayered. We conclude that cell adhesion mediated by N-cadherin is of major importance for retinal lamination and involved in maintenance of the lens epithelial sheet, but is not essential for the formation of photoreceptor ultrastructure or for synaptogenesis.