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Stem Cells International
Volume 2017, Article ID 1610691, 15 pages
Review Article

Regulation of Stem Cell Properties of Müller Glia by JAK/STAT and MAPK Signaling in the Mammalian Retina

1Department of Basic Sciences, College of Optometry, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA
2Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Deborah C. Otteson;

Received 4 November 2016; Accepted 21 December 2016; Published 17 January 2017

Academic Editor: Chuanwei Yang

Copyright © 2017 Krista M. Beach et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In humans and other mammals, the neural retina does not spontaneously regenerate, and damage to the retina that kills retinal neurons results in permanent blindness. In contrast to embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and embryonic/fetal retinal stem cells, Müller glia offer an intrinsic cellular source for regenerative strategies in the retina. Müller glia are radial glial cells within the retina that maintain retinal homeostasis, buffer ion flux associated with phototransduction, and form the blood/retinal barrier within the retina proper. In injured or degenerating retinas, Müller glia contribute to gliotic responses and scar formation but also show regenerative capabilities that vary across species. In the mammalian retina, regenerative responses achieved to date remain insufficient for potential clinical applications. Activation of JAK/STAT and MAPK signaling by CNTF, EGF, and FGFs can promote proliferation and modulate the glial/neurogenic switch. However, to achieve clinical relevance, additional intrinsic and extrinsic factors that restrict or promote regenerative responses of Müller glia in the mammalian retina must be identified. This review focuses on Müller glia and Müller glial-derived stem cells in the retina and phylogenetic differences among model vertebrate species and highlights some of the current progress towards understanding the cellular mechanisms regulating their regenerative response.