Müller glia provide essential tensile strength to the developing retina.

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MacDonald, Ryan B 
Randlett, Owen 
Oswald, Julia 
Yoshimatsu, Takeshi 

To investigate the cellular basis of tissue integrity in a vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) tissue, we eliminated Müller glial cells (MG) from the zebrafish retina. For well over a century, glial cells have been ascribed a mechanical role in the support of neural tissues, yet this idea has not been specifically tested in vivo. We report here that retinas devoid of MG rip apart, a defect known as retinoschisis. Using atomic force microscopy, we show that retinas without MG have decreased resistance to tensile stress and are softer than controls. Laser ablation of MG processes showed that these cells are under tension in the tissue. Thus, we propose that MG act like springs that hold the neural retina together, finally confirming an active mechanical role of glial cells in the CNS.


This is the final version of the article. It first appeared from the Rockefeller University Press via http://dx.doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201503115

Animals, Ependymoglial Cells, Microscopy, Atomic Force, Retina, Tensile Strength, Zebrafish
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J Cell Biol
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Rockefeller University Press
Medical Research Council (G1100312)
Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) (RGY0074/2013)
Wellcome Trust (100329/Z/12/Z)
This work was funded by a Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship to R.B.M., the Wellcome Trust programme in Developmental Biology to O.R. and J.O., NIH grants EY14358 (R.O.W.) and EY01730 (Vision Core), MRC Career Development Award and HFSP Young Investigator Grant to K.F., and a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award to W.A.H.