FGF-mediated induction of ciliary body tissue in the chick eye

Dev Biol. 2007 Apr 1;304(1):272-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2006.12.033. Epub 2006 Dec 21.


Upon morphogenesis, the simple neuroepithelium of the optic vesicle gives rise to four basic tissues in the vertebrate optic cup: pigmented epithelium, sensory neural retina, secretory ciliary body and muscular iris. Pigmented epithelium and neural retina are established through interactions with specific environments and signals: periocular mesenchyme/BMP specifies pigmented epithelium and surface ectoderm/FGF specifies neural retina. The anterior portions (iris and ciliary body) are specified through interactions with lens although the molecular mechanisms of induction have not been deciphered. As lens is a source of FGF, we examined whether this factor was involved in inducing ciliary body. We forced the pigmented epithelium of the embryonic chick eye to express FGF4. Infected cells and their immediate neighbors were transformed into neural retina. At a distance from the FGF signal, the tissue transitioned back into pigmented epithelium. Ciliary body tissue was found in the transitioning zone. The ectopic ciliary body was never in contact with the lens tissue. In order to assess the contribution of the lens on the specification of normal ciliary body, we created optic cups in which the lens had been removed while still pre-lens ectoderm. Ciliary body tissue was identified in the anterior portion of lens-less optic cups. We propose that the ciliary body may be specified at optic vesicle stages, at the same developmental stage when the neural retina and pigmented epithelium are specified and we present a model as to how this could be accomplished through overlapping BMP and FGF signals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Ciliary Body / embryology*
  • Embryonic Induction / physiology*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 4 / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Models, Biological*


  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 4