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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;723:407-14. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-0631-0_52.

Retinal degeneration in the fly.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Department of Genetics, and UW-Eye Research Institute, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53792, USA.


Many genes are functionally equivalent between flies and humans. In addition, the same, or similar, mutations cause disease in both species. In fact, nearly three-fourths of all human disease genes have related sequences in Drosophila. The fly has a relatively small genome, made up of about 13,600 genes in four pairs of chromosomes. However, despite the dramatic differences in size and apparent complexity between humans and flies--we have less than twice as many genes as a fly--our genome is estimated to be made up of only 20,000-25,000 genes contained in 23 pairs of chromosomes. Therefore, despite the fly's perceived simplicity, or our perceived complexity, our genetic makeup may not be all that different. Its versatility for genetic manipulation and convenience for unraveling fundamental biological processes continue to guarantee the fly a place in the spotlight for unraveling the basis of and therapeutic treatments for human eye diseases.

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