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
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.