The tectal pathways of regenerating goldfish optic axons are abnormal but not random. The relative proportion of temporal axons is highest in rostral tectum (65%) drops in midtectum (31%) and is very low in caudal tectum (4%). By contrast, nasal axons proceed into caudal tectum and are therefore relatively evenly distributed throughout the tectum. In this study, we have tested whether temporal axons are confined to rostral tectum by the presence of nasal axons in caudal tectum or whether they have a preference for rostral tectum regardless of other axons. We similarly tested whether nasal axons would grow preferentially into caudal tectum in the absence of temporal axons. At the time of optic nerve section either the nasal or temporal half retina was removed. Either 35 or 70 days after nerve section, the regenerating optic axons were labelled with HRP and both their pathways and distribution determined in DAB-reacted tectal wholemounts. In the absence of nasal axons, the relative density of temporal axons in rostral, mid and caudal tectum was 70%, 28% and 2%, respectively. The corresponding values for nasal axons, in the absence of temporal axons, were 30%, 40% and 30%, respectively. Thus, the overall distribution of nasal and temporal axons in the half retinal regenerates was similar to that of whole retinal regenerates, demonstrating that the retinotopic preferences of the axons were not dependent upon interaxonal interactions. Thus, nasal and temporal axons obviously discriminate between rostral and caudal tectum despite pathway disorganization and the absence of axons from the opposite hemiretina. This is consistent with axonal growth being under the influence of positional markers in tectum.

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