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Neuron. 2001 Nov 8;32(3):403-14.

senseless repression of rough is required for R8 photoreceptor differentiation in the developing Drosophila eye.

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Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


An outstanding model to study how neurons differentiate from among a field of equipotent undifferentiated cells is the process of R8 photoreceptor differentiation during Drosophila eye development. We show that in senseless mutant tissue, R8 differentiation fails and the presumptive R8 cell adopts the R2/R5 fate. We identify senseless repression of rough in R8 as an essential mechanism of R8 cell fate determination and demonstrate that misexpression of senseless in non-R8 photoreceptors results in repression of rough and induction of the R8 fate. Surprisingly, there is no loss of ommatidial clusters in senseless mutant tissue and all outer photoreceptor subtypes can be recruited, suggesting that other photoreceptors can substitute for R8 to initiate recruitment and that R8-specific signaling is not required for outer photoreceptor subtype assignment. A genetic model of R8 differentiation is presented.

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