Retinal Degeneration in the Fly
In the 1980s, Drosophila took on a surprising role as an animal model for retinal disease, when the genetic similarities and fundamental processes between flies and humans became apparent. Despite its perceived simplicity, the fruit fly is, indeed, a remarkably complex creature with a genetic makeup that is surprisingly similar to our own. Investigators continue to capitalize on a whole host of versatile genetic techniques together with the accessibility of the fly to dissect fundamental photoreceptor cell mechanisms in vivo. The brief life span of the fly, only 2 months, allows for monitoring the onset and progression of retinal degeneration in a short time. These advantageous features place Drosophila among the important animal models used for unraveling the basis of and therapeutic treatments for retinal degenerative disorders.
KeywordsDrosophila melanogaster Compound eye Rhodopsin Invertebrate phototransduction Retinitis pigmentosa Age-related macular degeneration Photoreceptor Protein trafficking Secretory pathway
Our research, on retinal degeneration in Drosophila, is supported by funding from the National Eye Institute (R01 EY08768), the Retina Research Foundation, and the Retina Research Foundation/Walter H. Helmerich Research Chair. I gratefully acknowledge C. Vang, E. Rosenbaum, and B. Larson for assistance with preparing the manuscript and figures.
- Hardie RC, Postma M (2008) Phototransduction in Microvillar Photoreceptors of Drosophila and Other Invertebrates. San Diego, CA: Academic PressGoogle Scholar
- Lawrence PA (1992) The Making of a Fly The Genetics of Animal Design. Cambridge: Blackwell Scientific PublicationsGoogle Scholar
- Roof DJ, Adamian M, Hayes A (1994) Rhodopsin accumulation at abnormal sites in retinas of mice with a human P23H rhodopsin transgene. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 35:4049–4062Google Scholar