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Published April 1, 1998 | public
Journal Article

Multiple Roles of the eyes absent Gene in Drosophila


Theeyes absent(eya) gene plays an essential role in the events that lead to formation of theDrosophilaeye; without expression ofeyain retinal progenitor cells, they undergo programmed cell death just prior to the morphogenetic furrow, leading to an eyeless or reduced eye phenotype. Theeyagene has recently been found to be highly conserved to humans, defining a new gene family. Insights into the gene's function in the fly, therefore, are likely to be relevant to the role of its homologs in vertebrates. Detailed studies at the subcellular level indicate that the Eya protein is localized to the nucleoplasm, suggesting a role in control of nuclear events. Theeyagene shows expression and roles in tissues other than the eye, including subsets of cells of the adult visual system, brain, and ovary, as well as an elaborate expression pattern in the embryo. Various mutations in theeyagene cause loss of ocelli, female sterility, or lethality. Analysis of the embryonic lethal phenotype indicates that mutant alleles show defects in head morphogenesis. These data indicate thateyahas critical roles in morphogenesis of a number of tissues in the animal, in addition to its role in early eye formation. Despite multiple roles at multiple stages of development of the fly, both the type I and type II forms of the protein, when expressed ectopically during larval development, can direct eye formation.

Additional Information

© 1998 by Academic Press. Received 10 November 1997, Accepted 10 December 1997. We are grateful for technical assistance of Lynette Dowling, Rosailind Young, Weili Fu, and Gladys Gray-Board. This research was funded in part by grants to N.M.B. from the National Eye Institute (EY11259) and the John Merck Fund, and to S.B. from the National Science Foundation (MCB-9408718), and National Institutes of Health (EY09278 and AG12289).

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