A team of researchers at the Bosch Institute have identified an important gene responsible for binocular vision.
The team is lead by Dr Catherine Leamey, head of the Developmental Neurobiology Laboratory of the Bosch Institute. In collaboration with colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Max-Planck institute for Biochemistry in Germany, Dr Leamey's team made a breakthrough discovery - identifying a molecule that specifically regulates the alignment of projection from both eyes.
Humans normally see a single in-depth view of visual space that integrates signals from both eyes. This process is disrupted in people with visual disorders such as strabismic amblyopia.
The researchers first discovered the binocular vision molecule, Ten_m3, in a screen to identify genes that are important in establishing appropriate patterns of neural connectivity in the developing visual system.
They have now shown that Ten_m3 is critical for the brain to meld images from the two eyes into one useful picture in the brain. This discovery may lead to new treatments for sensory disorders in which people experience the strange phenomenon of seeing better with one eye covered.
Dr Leamey started this project while undertaking her postdoctoral period at MIT in the laboratory of Professor Mriganka Sur. The project is an ongoing international collaboration, but much of the work is now undertaken in her laboratory within the Bosch Institute.
Current PhD students Sam Merlin and Kelly Glendining, previous honours students Paul Lattouf and Natasha Demel, and collaborator Atomu Sawatari, also of the Bosch Institute, all contributed to the work.
This work was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, The National Institutes of Health and the Simons Foundation.