Vertebrate eye development as modeled in Drosophila

Hum Mol Genet. 2000 Apr 12;9(6):917-25. doi: 10.1093/hmg/9.6.917.


Pax6, a member of the paired-box family of transcription factors, is critical for oculogenesis in both vertebrates and insects. Identification of potential vertebrate Pax6 targets has been guided by studies in Drosophila, where the Pax6 homologs eyeless ( ey ) and twin of eyeless ( toy ) function within a network of genes that synergistically pattern the developing fly eye. These targets, which share homology with the fly genes sine oculis, eyes absent and dachshund, exist in mice and humans as the Six, Eya and Dach gene families. Members of these gene families are present in the developing vertebrate eye, and preliminary studies suggest that they may function in a network analogous to that in the fly. Thus, despite radically different architecture, a similar molecular scaffold underlies both vertebrate and fly eye patterning, suggesting that the considerable power of Drosophila genetics can be harnessed to study mammalian ocular development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Eye / embryology*
  • Eye Proteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Vertebrates / embryology*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • PAX6 protein, human
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Pax6 protein, mouse
  • Repressor Proteins