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Photoreceptor morphogenesis and retinal degeneration: lessons from Drosophila


Knust,  Elisabeth
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Max Planck Society;

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Knust, E. (2007). Photoreceptor morphogenesis and retinal degeneration: lessons from Drosophila. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 17(5), 541-547.

Cells exhibit an amazingly wide range of different forms, and in most cases the shape of a cell is crucial for performing its specific function(s). But how does a cell obtain its particular shape during development, how can the shape be adapted to different environmental conditions, and what are the consequences if morphogenesis is impaired? An ideal cell type to study these questions is the photoreceptor cell, a photosensitive cell present in most metazoa, highly specialised to transform the energy from the light into a visual response. In the last few years, studies in the Drosophila eye have led to a considerable increase in understanding of the genetic control of photoreceptor morphogenesis; lessons, which may apply to other cell types as well. Most of the genes involved have been conserved during evolution, and mutations in several of them result in retinal degeneration, both in flies and humans. This makes the fly eye an attractive model to unravel the genetic, molecular and cell biological basis of the mechanisms that prevent retinal dystrophies.