Early Eye Development: Specification and Determination

  • Emmi Bürgy-Roukala
  • Sara Miellet
  • Abhishek K. Mishra
  • Simon G. SprecherEmail author


The compound eye of Drosophila melanogaster consists of hundreds of stereotypically organized unit eyes called ommatidia. The development of the eye begins in the fly embryo with the formation of the precursor cells of the presumptive eye-antennal imaginal disc. The disc expresses genes that belong to a so-called retinal determination network (RDN). The interplay between the genes of the RDN specifies and directs the development of the adult eye. The RDN includes highly conserved genes and integrate canonical signalling pathways, yet the outcome is totally distinctive from a typical vertebrate lens eye. The members of the RDN are highly interconnected forming complex, non-hierarchal loops controlling the transcription of one another. Knowledge gained from studying the RDN has helped us to better understand important developmental processes, such as cell specification and tissue growth. Astonishingly it has also demonstrated that eyes across species and phyla, albeit so different, share a common origin. In this chapter we will summarize the current knowledge of the RDN with its members and their interactions. In addition, we will briefly introduce the early specification steps of the eye-antennal imaginal disc in the embryo and later in the larvae.


Imaginal Disc Ventral Nerve Cord Morphogenetic Furrow Antennal Disc Retinal Determination Network Gene 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emmi Bürgy-Roukala
    • 1
  • Sara Miellet
    • 1
  • Abhishek K. Mishra
    • 1
  • Simon G. Sprecher
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Cell and Developmental Biology, Department of BiologyUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland

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