Adult and Larval Photoreceptors Use Different Mechanisms to Specify the Same Rhodopsin Fates

Genes Dev. 2007 Sep 1;21(17):2182-95. doi: 10.1101/gad.1565407.


Although development of the adult Drosophila compound eye is very well understood, little is known about development of photoreceptors (PRs) in the simple larval eye. We show here that the larval eye is composed of 12 PRs, four of which express blue-sensitive rhodopsin5 (rh5) while the other eight contain green-sensitive rh6. This is similar to the 30:70 ratio of adult blue and green R8 cells. However, the stochastic choice of adult color PRs and the bistable loop of the warts and melted tumor suppressor genes that unambiguously specify rh5 and rh6 in R8 PRs are not involved in specification of larval PRs. Instead, primary PR precursors signal via EGFR to surrounding tissue to develop as secondary precursors, which will become Rh6-expressing PRs. EGFR signaling is required for the survival of the Rh6 subtype. Primary precursors give rise to the Rh5 subtype. Furthermore, the combinatorial action of the transcription factors Spalt, Seven-up, and Orthodenticle specifies the two PR subtypes. Therefore, even though the larval PRs and adult R8 PRs express the same rhodopsins (rh5 and rh6), they use very distinct mechanisms for their specification.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / growth & development*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Eye / growth & development*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Larva / growth & development*
  • Models, Biological
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / physiology*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptors, Invertebrate Peptide / metabolism
  • Receptors, Steroid / physiology
  • Rhodopsin / genetics*
  • Rhodopsin / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Receptors, Invertebrate Peptide
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Rh5 protein, Drosophila
  • Rh6 protein, Drosophila
  • Transcription Factors
  • oc protein, Drosophila
  • salm protein, Drosophila
  • svp protein, Drosophila
  • Rhodopsin
  • Protein Kinases
  • Egfr protein, Drosophila
  • ErbB Receptors