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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2012 Dec 1;4(12). pii: a008391. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a008391.

Eye development and retinogenesis.

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UNC Neuroscience Center, Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Three embryonic tissue sources-the neural ectoderm, the surface ectoderm, and the periocular mesenchyme-contribute to the formation of the mammalian eye. For this reason, the developing eye has presented an invaluable system for studying the interactions among cells and, more recently, genes, in specifying cell fate. This article describes how the eye primordium is specified in the anterior neural plate by four eye field transcription factors and how the optic vesicle becomes regionalized into three distinct tissue types. Specific attention is given to how cross talk between the optic vesicle and surface ectoderm contributes to lens and optic cup formation. This article also describes how signaling networks and cell movements set up axes in the optic cup and establish the multiple cell fates important for vision. How multipotent retinal progenitor cells give rise to the six neuronal and one glial cell type in the mature retina is also explained. Finally, the history and progress of cellular therapeutics for the treatment of degenerative eye disease is outlined. Throughout this article, special attention is given to how disruption of gene function causes ocular malformation in humans. Indeed, the accessibility of the eye has contributed much to our understanding of the basic processes involved in mammalian development.

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