Sterratt DC, Lyngholm D, Willshaw DJ, Thompson ID (2013) Standard anatomical and visual space for the mouse retina: computational reconstruction and transformation of flattened retinae with the Retistruct package. PLoS Comput Biol 9: e1002921

The concept of topographic mapping is central to the understanding of the visual system at many levels, from the developmental to the computational. It is important to be able to relate different coordinate systems, e.g. maps of the visual field and maps of the retina. Retinal maps are frequently based on flat-mount preparations. These use dissection and relaxing cuts to render the quasi-spherical retina into a 2D preparation. The variable nature of relaxing cuts and associated tears limits quantitative cross-animal comparisons. We present an algorithm, "Retistruct," that reconstructs retinal flat-mounts by mapping them into a standard, spherical retinal space. This is achieved by: stitching the marked-up cuts of the flat-mount outline; dividing the stitched outline into a mesh whose vertices then are mapped onto a curtailed sphere; and finally moving the vertices so as to minimise a physically-inspired deformation energy function. Our validation studies indicate that the algorithm can estimate the position of a point on the intact adult retina to within 8° of arc (3.6% of nasotemporal axis). The coordinates in reconstructed retinae can be transformed to visuotopic coordinates. Retistruct is used to investigate the organisation of the adult mouse visual system. We orient the retina relative to the nictitating membrane and compare this to eye muscle insertions. To align the retinotopic and visuotopic coordinate systems in the mouse, we utilised the geometry of binocular vision. In standard retinal space, the composite decussation line for the uncrossed retinal projection is located 64° away from the retinal pole. Projecting anatomically defined uncrossed retinal projections into visual space gives binocular congruence if the optical axis of the mouse eye is oriented at 64° azimuth and 22° elevation, in concordance with previous results. Moreover, using these coordinates, the dorsoventral boundary for S-opsin expressing cones closely matches the horizontal meridian.

Pubmed: 23468609