An opioid growth factor, [Met5]-enkephalin, is known to regulate developmental events in the neonatal rat retina. This growth factor interacts with the zeta (ζ) opioid receptor to modulate retinal ontogeny. Both peptide and receptor are present in developing retina, but not in adult retina. We have used in situ hybridization histochemistry to identify and localize preproenkephalin A mRNA in the neonatal rat retina. Preproenkephalin mRNA was localized to the ganglion cell layer, with some radiolabeling found in the neuroblast layer. This result indicates that 1) the mRNA to preproenkephalin A is present during the critical stage of development in the neonatal retina that coincides with the presence of the growth-regulating peptide, [Met5]enkephalin, and 2) that the source of the opioid growth factor controlling the production of retinal cells appears to be autocrine (i.e., retinal neuroblasts) and paracrine (i.e., ganglion cells) in nature. Retina Development Rat In situ hybridization Preproenkephalin Opioid Enkephalin Gene expression Growth factor.
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