Exploring distinct retinal ganglion cell types at single cell resolution
Glaucoma is a degenerative disease of the eye, characterized by the gradual death of the optic nerve and the retinal ganglion cells that comprise it. The literature tells us that these cells do not die uniformly. To understand why this is, it is imperative we have a robust understanding of the retinal ganglion cell; however, characterization has been difficult and no good genetic profile exists for all the various sub-types. Our research examines retinal ganglion cells at single cell resolution on microarrays. Using these data, we are able to visualize candidate genes expressed in retinal ganglion cell sub-types with in situ hybridization using a mouse model. Of the many retinal ganglion cell sub-types, one is important for contrast sensitivity, which may aid in circadian rhythms as well as other visual functions. Our techniques have identified a set of genes that we predict is indicative of this sub-type and experiments are being performed to validate this finding. The use of these techniques grants us a stronger understanding of the biology of retinal ganglion cells, which will enable the development of improved future treatments for glaucoma.