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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2004 Feb;15(1):91-103.

Roles of cell-extrinsic growth factors in vertebrate eye pattern formation and retinogenesis.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Jules Stein Eye Institute, Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, 100 Stein Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Formation of the vertebrate visual system involves complex interplays of cell-extrinsic cues and cell-intrinsic determinants. Studies in several vertebrate species demonstrate that multiple classes of signaling molecules participate in pattern formation of the eye and neurogenesis of the retina. Certain signals, such as hedgehog, BMP, and FGF molecules, are repeatedly deployed at varying concentration thresholds and in different cellular contexts. Accumulating evidence reveals a striking conservation of molecular mechanisms regulating the neurogenic process between Drosophila and vertebrate retinas. The remaining challenge is to understand how these well-characterized signaling pathways are activated and integrated to impact eye morphogenesis and retinal progenitor cell fate determination.

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