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Development. 1995 Dec;121(12):4085-94.

Role of the morphogenetic furrow in establishing polarity in the Drosophila eye.

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Gallo Center, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital 94110, USA.


The Drosophila retina is a crystalline array of 800 ommatidia whose organization and assembly suggest polarization of the retinal epithelium along anteroposterior and dorsoventral axes. The retina develops by a stepwise process following the posterior-to-anterior progression of the morphogenetic furrow across the eye disc. Ectopic expression of hedgehog or local removal of patched function generates ectopic furrows that can progress in any direction across the disc leaving in their wake differentiating fields of ectopic ommatidia. We have studied the effect of these ectopic furrows on the polarity of ommatidial assembly and rotation. We find that the anteroposterior asymmetry of ommatidial assembly parallels the progression of ectopic furrows, regardless of their direction. In addition, ommatidia developing behind ectopic furrows rotate coordinately, forming equators in various regions of the disc. Interestingly, the expression of a marker normally restricted to the equator is induced in ectopic ommatidial fields. Ectopic equators are stable as they persist to adulthood, where they can coexist with the normal equator. Our results suggest that ectopic furrows can impart polarity to the disc epithelium, regarding the direction of both assembly and rotation of ommatidia. We propose that these processes are polarized as a consequence of furrow propagation, while more global determinants of dorsoventral and anteroposterior polarity may act less directly by determining the site of furrow initiation.

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