Technical brief: A method for analysis of gene expression in isolated mouse photoreceptor and Müller cells

Karl J. Wahlin, Lynette Lim, Elizabeth A. Grice, Peter A. Campochiaro, Donald J. Zack, Ruben Adler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Purpose: Molecular analysis of complex phenomena, such as selective death of photoreceptors and their rescue by neuro-protective agents, has been hindered by limitations of techniques for investigating gene expression in individual cells within a heterogeneous tissue such as the retina. The purpose of this study was to develop methods to assess gene expression in single retinal cells. Methods: Individual cells from papain-dissociated mouse retinae were captured with micropipettes and identified by morphology and by immunocytochemistry. Single cell cDNA libraries were generated by poly-d (T)-primed reverse transcription, poly-d(A) tailing of first strand cDNA, and en masse PCR-amplification using a custom made oligo-d(T). PCR was used to investigate gene expression in cDNAs from individual cells. Results: Dissociated rod and Müller glia cells maintained their morphology, which correlated with their immunocytochemical properties. RPE cells were recognized by their pigmentation. With the exception of bipolar cells, non-photoreceptor neurons were only identifiable by immunocytochemistry. Abundant cDNA could be synthesized from each individual cell. Cell-specific "markers" were detected by PCR almost exclusively in the predicted cell types. The expression of neurotrophic factor receptors was consistent with previous biological studies. Conclusions: These studies establish a method to compare, investigate, and analyze gene expression in individual cells of the retina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-375
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular vision
StatePublished - Jun 3 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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