A particularly powerful culture method for the retina is the explant assay, which consists in culturing a small piece of retina on an organotypic filter. Retinal explants can be prepared any time between embryonic day 13 (E13) and postnatal day 4 (P4). Although retinal ganglion cells tend to degenerate shortly after they are generated in explants, and photoreceptor cells do not grow extended outer segments, the explants will develop very similarly to a retina in vivo and generate all the different retinal cell types that will migrate to the appropriate layer. The retinal explant culture assay is particularly useful in cases where a mouse mutant is embryonic lethal and its retinal development cannot be studied in vivo. Because retinal explants can be prepared from embryonic animals and electroporated or infected with viral vectors, it is also a useful approach for the study of gene function at embryonic stages. Here, we present a retinal explant culture method that we have used extensively in various publications (Kechad et al., 2012; Cayouette et al., 2003; Cayouette and Raff, 2003; Elliott et al., 2008).
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