Goldsmith, P., Baier, H., and Harris, W.A. (2003) Two zebrafish mutants, ebony and ivory, uncover benefits of neighborhood on photoreceptor survival. Journal of neurobiology. 57(3):235-245.
Zebrafish offer a tractable system for the study of retinal development and degeneration, to provide insights into human retinal degeneration. We have begun to dissect the question of neighborhood effects on photoreceptor differentiation and survival through the isolation and characterization of mutants with retinal degeneration. We describe two mutants, ebony and ivory, isolated through a behavioral screen for blind mutants induced by ethyl nitrosourea mutagenesis. Chimeric analysis was conducted to attempt to rescue the photoreceptor degeneration. In ebony, the photoreceptor cell death was both cell autonomous and nonautonomous in nature, whilst the photoreceptor cell death was strikingly nonautonomous in ivory. The rescue at a distance is in keeping with a putative diffusible survival factor. We propose a density-dependent nonautonomous neighborhood effect to explain these findings.