Activating the regenerative potential of Müller glia cells in a regeneration-deficient retina

  1. Katharina Lust
  2. Joachim Wittbrodt  Is a corresponding author
  1. Heidelberg University, Germany


Regeneration responses in animals are widespread across phyla. To identify molecular players that confer regenerative capacities to non-regenerative species is of key relevance for basic research and translational approaches. Here we report a differential response in retinal regeneration between medaka (Oryzias latipes) and zebrafish (Danio rerio). In contrast to zebrafish, medaka Müller glia (olMG) cells behave like progenitors and exhibit a restricted capacity to regenerate the retina. After injury, olMG cells proliferate but fail to self-renew and ultimately only restore photoreceptors. In our injury paradigm, we observed that in contrast to zebrafish, proliferating olMG cells do not maintain sox2 expression. Sustained sox2 expression in olMG cells confers regenerative responses similar to those of zebrafish MG (drMG) cells. We show that a single, cell-autonomous factor reprograms olMG cells and establishes a regeneration-like mode. Our results position medaka as an attractive model to delineate key regeneration factors with translational potential.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Katharina Lust

    Centre for Organismal Studies, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Joachim Wittbrodt

    Centre for Organismal Studies, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8550-7377


European Commission (Advanced Grant 294354)

  • Joachim Wittbrodt

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: Animal experimentation: Medaka (Oryzias latipes) and zebrafish (Danio rerio) stocks were maintained as closed stocks in a fish facility built according to the local animal welfare standards (Tierschutzgesetz 111, Abs. 1, Nr. 1), and animal experiments were performed in accordance with European Union animal welfare guidelines. The facility is under the supervision of the local representative of the animal welfare agency. Fish were maintained in a constant recirculating system at 28{degree sign}C with a 14 h light/10 h dark cycle (Tierschutzgesetz 111, Abs. 8 1, Nr. 1, Haltungserlaubnis AZ35-9185.64 and AZ35-9185.64/BH KIT).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: September 26, 2017
  2. Accepted: January 26, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: January 29, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: February 16, 2018 (version 2)


© 2018, Lust & Wittbrodt

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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  1. Katharina Lust
  2. Joachim Wittbrodt
Activating the regenerative potential of Müller glia cells in a regeneration-deficient retina
eLife 7:e32319.

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