To investigate potential sources of nitric oxide production in the early stages of retinal development we used, in the tadpole, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-diaphorase histochemistry that was reported to reveal nitric oxide synthase isoforms in the retina. In the first stages of optic vesicle differentiation, prior to optic cup invagination, histochemical positivity was detected in the radial processes of Muller cells, that provide a scaffold for migrating retinal neuroblasts, and was soon followed by intense staining of photoreceptors. These events preceded retinal laminar patterning and the appearance of histochemical positivity in other retinal cell populations. The findings indicate that nitric oxide synthase is expressed during early retinogenesis at selective sites, which are implicated in the guidance of migrating cells and in phototransduction. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.
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