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Characterization of the retinal proteome during rod photoreceptor genesis

Alison E Barnhill1256, Laura A Hecker157, Oksana Kohutyuk35, Janice E Buss45, Vasant G Honavar345 and Heather West Greenlee1235*

Author Affiliations

1 Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Iowa State University, Ames, IA USA

2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, IA USA

3 Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Program, Iowa State University, Ames, IA USA

4 Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA USA

5 Department of Computer Science, Iowa State University, Ames, IA USA

6 National Animal Disease Center, Ames, IA 50010, USA

7 Mayo Clinic, Department of Ophthalmology, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:25  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-25

Published: 27 January 2010



The process of rod photoreceptor genesis, cell fate determination and differentiation is complex and multi-factorial. Previous studies have defined a model of photoreceptor differentiation that relies on intrinsic changes within the presumptive photoreceptor cells as well as changes in surrounding tissue that are extrinsic to the cell. We have used a proteomics approach to identify proteins that are dynamically expressed in the mouse retina during rod genesis and differentiation.


A series of six developmental ages from E13 to P5 were used to define changes in retinal protein expression during rod photoreceptor genesis and early differentiation. Retinal proteins were separated by isoelectric focus point and molecular weight. Gels were analyzed for changes in protein spot intensity across developmental time. Protein spots that peaked in expression at E17, P0 and P5 were picked from gels for identification. There were 239 spots that were picked for identification based on their dynamic expression during the developmental period of maximal rod photoreceptor genesis and differentiation. Of the 239 spots, 60 of them were reliably identified and represented a single protein. Ten proteins were represented by multiple spots, suggesting they were post-translationally modified. Of the 42 unique dynamically expressed proteins identified, 16 had been previously reported to be associated with the developing retina.


Our results represent the first proteomics study of the developing mouse retina that includes prenatal development. We identified 26 dynamically expressed proteins in the developing mouse retina whose expression had not been previously associated with retinal development.