The morphogenesis of the visual cells in the retina of DBA normal mice and in C3H mice having a genetic distrophy has been studied with the electron microscope.
The stages of development previously described (3) have been confirmed. Two basal centrioles have been observed and an asymmetrical process of invagination of the surface membrane is recognized as the main source of the rod sacs in the outer segment.
In the C3H mice the differentiation of the photoreceptors starts and reaches a certain stage but very early some alterations in the morphogenesis are observed. In the outer segment there appears a disorganized growth of membranous material that may invade the inner segment with disappearance of the normal connecting cilium. In the inner segment there is an increase of vesicular material and in the number of dense particles. In later stages the entire inner segment is filled with dense particles and the mitochondria degenerate. The synaptic junction with the bipolar cell, which reaches a certain degree of development, also shows early signs of degeneration. The observations reported have confirmed and extended the concept that the hereditary visual alterations of C3H mice are not the result of a primary arrested development but of a secondary alteration of the differentiating photoreceptor. In C3H mice the entire process of morphogenesis is disordered and leads to final involution and death. These findings are correlated with recent biochemical findings and are discussed with relation to the genetic mechanisms that may control normal morphogenesis.