Targeting of GFP to newborn rods by Nrl promoter and temporal expression profiling of flow-sorted photoreceptors

Masayuki Akimoto, Hong Cheng, Dongxiao Zhu, Joseph A. Brzezinski, Ritu Khanna, Elena Filippova, Edwin C T Oh, Yuezhou Jing, Jose Luis Linares, Matthew Brooks, Sepideh Zareparsi, Alan J. Mears, Alfred Hero, Thomas M Glaser, Anand Swaroop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

233 Scopus citations


The Maf-family transcription factor Nrl is a key regulator of photoreceptor differentiation in mammals. Ablation of the Nrl gene in mice leads to functional cones at the expense of rods. We show that a 2.5-kb Nrl promoter segment directs the expression of enhanced GFP specifically to rod photoreceptors and the pineal gland of transgenic mice, GFP is detected shortly after terminal cell division, corresponding to the timing of rod genesis revealed by birthdating studies. In Nrl-/- retinas, the GFP+ photoreceptors express S-opsin, consistent with the transformation of rod precursors into cones. We report the gene profiles of freshly isolated flow-sorted GFP+ photoreceptors from wild-type and Nrl-/- retinas at five distinct developmental stages. Our results provide a framework for establishing gene regulatory networks that lead to mature functional photoreceptors from postmitotic precursors. Differentially expressed rod and cone genes are excellent candidates for retinopathies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3890-3895
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 7 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene profiling
  • Gene regulation
  • Neuronal differentiation
  • Retina
  • Transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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