Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are born at the apical side of the retinal neuroepithelium before they translocate to the basal side and send out axons to form the optic nerve. Icha et al. reveal that, in the zebrafish retina, RGC translocation is expedited by basal process attachment and a population of stable microtubules. If necessary, however, RGCs can switch to a backup, multipolar migratory mode to ensure that they reach the basal lamina in time to support the later stages of retinal development.
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