Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Unusual Fly Mutations Week No Eye, Dear
20 June 2013

No Eye, Dear

At first glance it may not seem that our squishy human eyeballs have much in common with a fruit fly’s jewel-like eyes. But there’s a surprising similarity – the gene responsible for directing the development of our eyes and those of a fly is virtually the same. Known as PAX6 in humans and eyeless in flies, the gene is a kind of ‘master controller’ that tells a developing embryo exactly where to grow an eye. As you might expect, any mistakes in such a fundamental gene can cause serious problems. The top row of images shows healthy eyes from a human, mouse, zebra fish and fruit fly (left to right), while the bottom row have failed to grow properly due to the presence of a faulty PAX6 or eyeless gene. By studying this vital gene, scientists are gathering important clues as to why some children are born blind.

Written by Kat Arney

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