Molecular aspects of eye evolution and development: From the origin of retinal cells to the future of regenerative medicine

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Abstract

A central issue of evolutionary developmental biology is how the eye is diverged morphologically and functionally. However, the unifying mechanisms or schemes that govern eye diversification remain unsolved. In this review, I first introduce the concept of evolutionary developmental biology of the eye with a focus on photoreception, the fundamental property of retinal cells. Second, I summarize the early development of vertebrate eyes and the role of a homeobox gene, Lhx1, in subdivision of the retina into 2 domains, the neural retina and retinal pigmented epithelium of the optic primordium. The 2 retinal domains are essential components of the eye as they are found in such prototypic eyes as the extant planarian eye. Finally, I propose the presence of novel retinal cell subtypes with photosensory functions based on our recent work on atypical photopigments (opsins) in vertebrates. Since human diseases are attributable to the aberration of various types of cells due to alterations in gene expression, understanding the precise mechanisms of cellular diversification and unraveling the molecular profiles of cellular subtypes are essential to future regenerative medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-212
Number of pages10
JournalActa medica Okayama
Volume67
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 27 2013

Keywords

  • Development
  • Evolution
  • Eye
  • Opsin
  • Photoreceptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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