A temporal single cell transcriptome atlas of zebrafish anterior segment development

Oliver Vöcking, J. K. Famulski

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1 Scopus citations


Anterior segment dysgenesis (ASD), resulting in vision impairment, stems from maldevelopment of anterior segment (AS) tissues. Incidence of ASD has been linked to malfunction of periocular mesenchyme cells (POM). POM cells specify into anterior segment mesenchyme (ASM) cells which colonize and produce AS tissues. In this study we uncover ASM developmental trajectories associated with formation of the AS. Using a transgenic line of zebrafish that fluorescently labels the ASM throughout development, Tg[foxc1b:GFP], we isolated GFP+ ASM cells at several developmental timepoints (48–144 hpf) and performed single cell RNA sequencing. Clustering analysis indicates subdifferentiation of ASM as early as 48 hpf and subsequent diversification into corneal epithelium/endothelium/stroma, or annular ligament (AL) lineages. Tracking individual clusters reveals common developmental pathways, up to 72 hpf, for the AL and corneal endothelium/stroma and distinct pathways for corneal epithelium starting at 48 hpf. Spatiotemporal validation of over 80 genes found associated with AS development demonstrates a high degree of conservation with mammalian trabecular meshwork and corneal tissues. In addition, we characterize thirteen novel genes associated with annular ligament and seven with corneal development. Overall, the data provide a molecular verification of the long-standing hypothesis that POM derived ASM give rise to AS tissues and highlight the high degree of conservation between zebrafish and mammals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5656
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Jeramiah Smith for invaluable assistance with Monocle 3 and cell ranger data analysis and Brandi Bolton for excellent zebrafish care. This study was funded by NIH-NEI R01EY027805-01A1 and funding from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation Career Starter Research Grant for OV.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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