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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Apr 27;366(1568):1193-203. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0175.

The lens: a classical model of embryonic induction providing new insights into cell determination in early development.

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Umeå Center for Molecular Medicine, Umeå University, Building 6M, 4th floor, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


The lens was the first tissue in which the concept of embryonic induction was demonstrated. For many years lens induction was thought to occur at the time the optic vesicle and lens placode came in contact. Since then, studies have revealed that lens placodal progenitor cells are specified already at gastrula stages, much earlier than previously believed, and independent of optic vesicle interactions. In this review, I will focus on how individual signalling molecules, in particular BMP, FGF, Wnt and Shh, regulate the initial specification of lens placodal cells and the progressive development of lens cells. I will discuss recent work that has shed light on the combination of signalling molecules and the molecular interactions that affect lens specification and proper lens formation. I will also discuss proposed tissue interactions important for lens development. A greater knowledge of the molecular interactions during lens induction is likely to have practical benefits in understanding the causes and consequences of lens diseases. Moreover, knowledge regarding lens induction is providing fundamental important insights into inductive processes in development in general.

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