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Distinct expression patterns of mitochondrially localized YFP in neuronal subsets in the retina of three transgenic mouse lines

Robert W Burgess1 and Peter G Fuerst12*

Author Affiliations

1 The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, USA

2 Department of Biological Sciences and WWAMI Medical Education Program, The University of Idaho, Moscow ID 83844, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:253  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-253

Published: 6 October 2010



Transgenic labels that allow the visualization of specific populations of neurons have proven to be powerful tools for research. Further developing such resources to label additional cell types and specific organelles within these cell will provide additional experimental opportunities.


The retinal expression profile of a mitochondria-localized yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in each of three transgenic mouse lines was determined. Each line, Mito-R, Mito-Y and Mito-Z, expresses YFP in distinct and reproducible populations of retinal neurons. In the Mito-R line, YFP is expressed in most or all retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and photoreceptors making this line useful for studying axonal transport in diseases such as glaucoma and photoreceptor degeneration related to transport of mitochondria into the inner segments. In the Mito-Y line, YFP is expressed in many cell types in the dorsal retina and in a rough mosaic population of RGCs in the rest of the retina, making this line useful for study of how retinal mosaics are organized. In the Mito-Z line, YFP is expressed in a subset of RGCs, amacrine cells, bipolar cells and photoreceptors. The Mito-Z line is inserted on the X-Chromosome, resulting in X-inactivation mosaicism in female mice carrying a single copy of the transgene. In the female hemizygous retina, expression is present in distinct clonal columns, making this transgenic line useful for analysis of clonal proliferation and lateral migration of retinal neurons.


The retinal expression profiles of three transgenic mouse lines that express a mitochondrially localized YFP were characterized in this study. These lines will allow researchers to isolate and identify cell types within the retina and to study retinal mitochondrial trafficking and disease.