Understanding the process by which an uncommitted dividing cell produces particular specialized cells within a tissue remains a fundamental question in developmental biology. Many tissues are well suited for cell-fate studies, but perhaps none more so than the developing retina. Traditionally, experiments using the retina have been designed to elucidate the influence that individual environmental signals or transcription factors can have on cell-fate decisions. Despite a substantial amount of information gained through these studies, there is still much that we do not yet understand about how cell fate is controlled on a systems level. In addition, new factors such as noncoding RNAs and regulators of chromatin have been shown to play roles in cell-fate determination and with the advent of "omics" technology more factors will most likely be identified. In this chapter we summarize both the traditional view of retinal cell-fate determination and introduce some new ideas that are providing a challenge to the older way of thinking about the acquisition of cell fates.
Keywords: Cell fate; Retina; Signaling; Stochastic; Transcription factors.
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