Continued growth and circuit building in the anamniote visual system

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Fish and amphibia are capable of lifelong growth and regeneration. The two core components of their visual system, the retina and tectum both maintain small populations of stem cells that contribute new neurons and glia to these tissues as they grow. As the animals age, the initial retinal projections onto the tectum are continuously remodeled to maintain retinotopy. These properties raise several biological challenges related to the control of proliferation and differentiation of retinal and tectal stem cells. For instance, how do stem and progenitor cells integrate intrinsic and extrinsic cues to produce the appropriate type and number of cells needed by the growing tissue. Does retinal growth or neuronal activity influence tectal growth? What are the cellular and molecular mechanisms that enable retinal axons to shift their tectal connections as these two tissues grow in incongruent patterns? While we cannot yet provide answers to these questions, this review attempts to supply background and context, laying the groundwork for new investigations.

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