COUP-TFI and -TFII nuclear receptors are expressed in amacrine cells and play roles in regulating the differentiation of retinal progenitor cells

Mariko Inoue, Atsumi Iida, Shinya Satoh, Tatsuhiko Kodama, Sumiko Watanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factors (COUP-TFs) are members of the steroid/thyroid hormone receptor superfamily. We have shown that two homologous COUP-TF genes, COUP-TFI and COUP-TFII, are expressed in developing mouse retina with a unique gradient along the dorsal-ventral axis. In this work, we aimed to characterize the detailed expression patterns of COUP-TFs in mature retina. Their functions in retinal progenitor cell differentiation into subtypes of mature retinal cells were also examined. Immunostaining of frozen mouse retinal sections with antibodies against COUP-TFs and markers for retinal subtypes revealed that COUP-TFI and -TFII are expressed in amacrine cells, especially in a glycinergic subtype in mature mouse retina. Forced expression of COUP-TFI and -TFII in mouse retinal explant culture by retrovirus-mediated gene transfer promoted amacrine and cone photoreceptor cell differentiation, whereas that of rod photoreceptors decreased. Cell proliferation and apoptosis were not affected by the perturbation of COUP-TFI and -TFII expression levels. Using the Y79 retinoblastoma cell line, we observed that COUP-TFI and -TFII suppressed the transcriptional activation of the Nrl gene. We then analyzed one another member of COUP-TF transcription factors, COUP-TFγ, whose structure is relatively distant from those of COUP-TFI and -TFII. It is expressed mainly in horizontal cells and has weak activity in inducing amacrine cells when COUP-TFγ was ectopically expressed in retinal explants. In summary, we found that COUP-TFI and -TFII play roles in amacrine cell differentiation, and COUP-TFγ has distinct expression pattern and roles during retinal development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • amacrine
  • nuclear receptor
  • photoreceptor
  • retinal differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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