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Development. 2002 Dec;129(23):5313-22.

Control of Drosophila eye specification by Wingless signalling.

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  • 1MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, UK.


Organ formation requires early specification of the groups of cells that will give rise to specific structures. The Wingless protein plays an important part in this regional specification of imaginal structures in Drosophila, including defining the region of the eye-antennal disc that will become retina. We show that Wingless signalling establishes the border between the retina and adjacent head structures by inhibiting the expression of the eye specification genes eyes absent, sine oculis and dachshund. Ectopic Wingless signalling leads to the repression of these genes and the loss of eyes, whereas loss of Wingless signalling has the opposite effects. Wingless expression in the anterior of wild-type discs is complementary to that of these eye specification genes. Contrary to previous reports, we find that under conditions of excess Wingless signalling, eye tissue is transformed not only into head cuticle but also into a variety of inappropriate structures.

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