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PLoS Genet. 2011 Aug;7(8):e1002226. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002226. Epub 2011 Aug 11.

dlx and sp6-9 Control optic cup regeneration in a prototypic eye.

Author information

1
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.

Abstract

Optic cups are a structural feature of diverse eyes, from simple pit eyes to camera eyes of vertebrates and cephalopods. We used the planarian prototypic eye as a model to study the genetic control of optic cup formation and regeneration. We identified two genes encoding transcription factors, sp6-9 and dlx, that were expressed in the eye specifically in the optic cup and not the photoreceptor neurons. RNAi of these genes prevented formation of visible optic cups during regeneration. Planarian regeneration requires an adult proliferative cell population with stem cell-like properties called the neoblasts. We found that optic cup formation occurred only after migration of progressively differentiating progenitor cells from the neoblast population. The eye regeneration defect caused by dlx and sp6-9 RNAi can be explained by a failure to generate these early optic cup progenitors. Dlx and Sp6-9 genes function as a module during the development of diverse animal appendages, including vertebrate and insect limbs. Our work reveals a novel function for this gene pair in the development of a fundamental eye component, and it utilizes these genes to demonstrate a mechanism for total organ regeneration in which extensive cell movement separates new cell specification from organ morphogenesis.

PMID:
21852957
PMCID:
PMC3154955
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1002226
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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