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Trends Genet. 2016 Oct;32(10):638-659. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2016.07.004.

Mechanisms of Photoreceptor Patterning in Vertebrates and Invertebrates.

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Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21218-2685 USA.
Contributed equally


Across the animal kingdom, visual systems have evolved to be uniquely suited to the environments and behavioral patterns of different species. Visual acuity and color perception depend on the distribution of photoreceptor (PR) subtypes within the retina. Retinal mosaics can be organized into three broad categories: stochastic/regionalized, regionalized, and ordered. We describe here the retinal mosaics of flies, zebrafish, chickens, mice, and humans, and the gene regulatory networks controlling proper PR specification in each. By drawing parallels in eye development between these divergent species, we identify a set of conserved organizing principles and transcriptional networks that govern PR subtype differentiation.


Danio rerio; Drosophila melanogaster; Gallus gallus domesticus; Homo sapiens; Mus musculus; chick; color vision; color-detecting; cone; evolution; eye; fruit fly; gene network; human; inner photoreceptor; mosaic; motion-detecting; mouse; outer photoreceptor; photoreceptor; regionalization; regulatory network; retina; rod; stochasticity; zebrafish

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