Elsaeidi, F., Macpherson, P., Mills, E.A., Jui, J., Flannery, J.G., Goldman, D. (2018) Notch suppression collaborates with Ascl1 and Lin28 to unleash a regenerative response in fish retina, but not in mice. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 38(9):2246-2261.
Müller glial (MG) cells in the zebrafish retina respond to injury by acquiring retinal stem-cell characteristics. Thousands of gene expression changes are associated with this event. Key among these changes is the induction of Ascl1a and Lin28a, two reprogramming factors whose expression is necessary for retina regeneration. Whether these factors are sufficient to drive MG proliferation and subsequent neuronal-fate specification remains unknown. To test this, we conditionally expressed Ascl1a and Lin28a in the uninjured retina of male and female fish. We found that together, their forced expression only stimulates sparse MG proliferation. However, in combination with Notch signaling inhibition, widespread MG proliferation and neuron regeneration ensued. Remarkably, Ascl1 and Lin28a expression in the retina of male and female mice also stimulated sparse MG proliferation, although this was not enhanced when combined with inhibitors of Notch signaling. Lineage tracing in both fish and mice suggested that the proliferating MG generated multipotent progenitors; however, this process was much more efficient in fish than mice. Overall, our studies suggest that the overexpression of Ascl1a and Lin28a in zebrafish, in combination with inhibition of Notch signaling, can phenocopy the effects of retinal injury in Müller glia. Interestingly, Ascl1 and Lin28a seem to have similar effects in fish and mice, whereas Notch signaling may differ. Understanding the different consequences of Notch signaling inhibition in fish and mice, may suggest additional strategies for enhancing retina regeneration in mammals.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Mechanisms underlying retina regeneration in fish may suggest strategies for stimulating this process in mammals. Here we report that forced expression of Ascl1 and Lin28a can stimulate sparse MG proliferation in fish and mice; however, only in fish does Notch signaling inhibition collaborate with Ascl1a and Lin28a to stimulate widespread MG proliferation in the uninjured retina. Discerning differences in Notch signaling between fish and mice MG may reveal strategies for stimulating retina regeneration in mammals.