Reprogramming Müller Glia to Regenerate Retinal Neurons

Annual Review of Vision Science

Vol. 6:171-193 (Volume publication date September 2020)
First published as a Review in Advance on April 28, 2020


In humans, various genetic defects or age-related diseases, such as diabetic retinopathies, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, cause the death of retinal neurons and profound vision loss. One approach to treating these diseases is to utilize stem and progenitor cells to replace neurons in situ, with the expectation that new neurons will create new synaptic circuits or integrate into existing ones. Reprogramming non-neuronal cells in vivo into stem or progenitor cells is one strategy for replacing lost neurons. Zebrafish have become a valuable model for investigating cellular reprogramming and retinal regeneration. This review summarizes our current knowledge regarding spontaneous reprogramming of Müller glia in zebrafish and compares this knowledge to research efforts directed toward reprogramming Müller glia in mammals. Intensive research using these animal models has revealed shared molecular mechanisms that make Müller glia attractive targets for cellular reprogramming and highlighted the potential for curing degenerative retinal diseases from intrinsic cellular sources.