Single cell transcriptome profiling of developing chick retinal cells
The vertebrate retina is a specialized photosensitive tissue comprised of six neuronal and one glial cell types, each of which develops in prescribed proportions at overlapping timepoints from a common progenitor pool. While each of these cells has a specific function contributing to proper vision in the mature animal, their differential representation in the retina as well as the presence of distinctive cellular subtypes makes identifying the transcriptomic signatures that lead to each retinal cell’s fate determination and development challenging. We have analyzed transcriptomes from individual cells isolated from the chick retina throughout retinogenesis. While we focused our efforts on the retinal ganglion cells, our transcriptomes of developing chick cells also contained representation from multiple retinal cell types, including photoreceptors and interneurons at different stages of development. Most interesting was the identification of transcriptomes from individual mixed lineage progenitor cells in the chick as these cells offer a window into the cell fate decision-making process. Taken together, these datasets will enable us to uncover the most critical genes acting in the steps of cell fate determination and early differentiation of various retinal cell types.