Retinal Expression of the Drosophila eyes absent Gene Is Controlled by Several Cooperatively Acting Cis-regulatory Elements

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Abstract

The eyes absent (eya) gene of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is a member of an evolutionarily conserved gene regulatory network that controls eye formation in all seeing animals. The loss of eya leads to the complete elimination of the compound eye while forced expression of eya in non-retinal tissues is sufficient to induce ectopic eye formation. Within the developing retina eya is expressed in a dynamic pattern and is involved in tissue specification/determination, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and cell fate choice. In this report we explore the mechanisms by which eya expression is spatially and temporally governed in the developing eye. We demonstrate that multiple cis-regulatory elements function cooperatively to control eya transcription and that spacing between a pair of enhancer elements is important for maintaining correct gene expression. Lastly, we show that the loss of eya expression in sine oculis (so) mutants is the result of massive cell death and a progressive homeotic transformation of retinal progenitor cells into head epidermis.

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Weasner, B. M., Weasner, B. P., Neuman, S. D., Bashirullah, A., & Kumar, J. P. (2016). Retinal Expression of the Drosophila eyes absent Gene Is Controlled by Several Cooperatively Acting Cis-regulatory Elements. PLoS Genetics, 12(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1006462

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