The specification of the R7 photoreceptor cell fate in the developing eye of Drosophila depends on the local activation of the sevenless (sev) receptor tyrosine kinase by boss, a protein expressed on the membrane of the neighboring R8 cell. Constitutive activation of the sev receptor results in a dosage dependent increase in the number of R7 cells per ommatidium. Genetic screens have been used to identify mutations that alter the efficiency of signal transduction. Subsequent molecular characterization of the corresponding genes has led to the identification of a number of proteins involved in transducing the signal from the receptor to the nucleus. In contrast to the receptor and its ligand, these components are shared between different signal transduction pathways not only in Drosophila but are also homologous to components involved in signal transduction in other organisms.