WNT/Frizzled signaling in eye development and disease

Front Biosci. 2006 Sep 1:11:2442-64. doi: 10.2741/1982.


The canonical Wnt/Fzd signaling pathway is highly conserved among various species. Increasing evidence is accumulating for non-canonical Wnt signaling pathways, analogous to those discovered in Drosophila, being operative in vertebrates. Similarly, the networks of genes involved in eye development show significant conservation during evolution. The amenability of Drosophila for genetic manipulation and analysis of ocular phenotypes has delivered a great deal of information about the roles of the Wnt/Fzd signaling pathways at various stages of ocular development and growth, particularly in regulating the formation and size of the eye field, cell proliferation, polarity and differentiation. In addition to the numerous recent studies that have identified the expression of various components of these signaling pathways in the developing vertebrate eye, functional studies have revealed significant parallels in the way that Wnt/Fz signals regulate the formation of the vertebrate eye field and also the proliferation and differentiation of cells, particularly in the lens and retina. Significant advances have also recently been made in identifying mutations in these signaling pathways that underlie or contribute to various ocular diseases such as exudative vitreoretinopathy, retinal degenerations, cataract, ocular tumors and various congenital ocular malformations. Combined with the mechanistic studies in vertebrate and invertebrate models, these studies point to important functional roles for Wnt/Fzd pathways in the human eye. Further investigation of how these pathways function during eye development and growth may yield important insights into novel therapeutic approaches to treat or prevent diseases that cause blindness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Eye / embryology*
  • Eye / growth & development
  • Eye Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Frizzled Receptors / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Lens, Crystalline / embryology
  • Lens, Crystalline / growth & development
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology
  • Retina / embryology
  • Retina / growth & development
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Vertebrates / embryology
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology*
  • Wnt1 Protein


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Frizzled Receptors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt1 Protein
  • wg protein, Drosophila