GDNF family receptor alpha (GFRα) receptors are involved in the regulation of different aspects of embryonic development such as proliferation, migration, differentiation and survival. To determine the possible role of GFRα4 in retinal development, we analysed its expression in the developing chicken retina. We found that GFRα4 is temporally co-expressed with c-ret. Both, the temporal and spatial expression of GFRα4 is developmentally regulated during retinogenesis and is first detected in cells of the ganglion cell layer at E6. As development of the retina proceeds, the expression of GFRα4 extends to cells of the inner half of the inner nuclear layer and to cells of the outermost cell row of the inner nuclear layer. Later on, GFRα4 expression is also found in additional cells of the outer half of the inner nuclear layer and in a subpopulation of photoreceptors. A central-to-peripheral gradient of retinal differentiation is evident, as the onset of GFRα4 expression is first detectable in the central retina, while it is delayed by two days in its periphery. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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