Development of the eye can be subdivided into three phases. The first phase is the formation of the major structures of the eye by the processes of induction and regional specification. The second is the maturation of these structures to form the functional eye, and the third phase is the formation of neuronal connections between retina and the optic tectum. These processes are tightly regulated by signalling cascades that direct axonal outgrowth, cellular proliferation and differentiation. Some members of these signalling cascades have been identified in recent studies. These include secreted factors which transmit signals extracellularly, and receptors and transcription factors which are members of intracellular signalling pathways that respond to extracellular signals. This review summarizes the recent research that has implicated these factors in playing a role in eye development on the basis of functional or expression criteria.
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