Extracellular signaling "cross-talk" between tissues is an important requirement for development of many organs yet the underlying mechanisms generally remain poorly understood. The anterior segment of the eye, which is constructed from four embryonic lineages, provides a unique opportunity to genetically dissect developmental processes such as signaling "cross-talk" without fear of inducing lethality. In the current review, we summarize recent data showing that PITX2, a homeodomain transcription factor, integrates retinoic acid and canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling during anterior segment development. Because the requirements for retinoic acid signaling, canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling, and PITX2 are not unique to the eye, this newly identified pathway may have relevance elsewhere during development and in tissue homeostasis.
2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.