c-kit marks late retinal progenitor cells and regulates their differentiation in developing mouse retina

Hideto Koso, Shinya Satoh, Sumiko Watanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Retinal progenitor cells are believed to display altered proliferation and differentiation during retinal development, suggesting that retinal progenitor cell populations are not homogeneous. However, the composition of progenitor cell populations is not known, due in part to the lack of known surface markers identifying distinct stages of retinal progenitor cells. We found a dramatic change in the expression profile of the cell surface antigens c-kit and stage-specific embryonic antigen-1 (SSEA-1) in retinal progenitor cells during development. While SSEA-1 was expressed early in development, c-kit expression peaked in late stage progenitor cells. The identification of these developmental markers enabled us to characterize distinct sub-populations of retinal progenitor cells. Progenitor cell subpopulations expressing either SSEA-1, c-kit, or both showed different proliferation and differentiation abilities. Although SSEA-1-positive cells were augmented by β-catenin signaling, c-kit-positive cells were positively regulated by Notch signaling. Taken together, our data suggest that c-kit and SSEA-1 can be used to spatiotemporally differentiate retinal progenitor populations that have intrinsically distinct characteristics. Prolonged expression of c-kit by a retrovirus resulted in the promotion of proliferation and the appearance of nestin-positive cells in the presence of the c-kit ligand, stem cell factor (SCF). This suggests a role for c-kit, Notch, and the β-catenin signaling network in retinal development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-154
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Differentiation
  • Neural retina
  • Progenitor cells
  • Proliferation
  • c-kit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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