The retina is an excellent system for delving into the question of how cell fate, number and organization are regulated in the central nervous system. Multipotential progenitor cells in the immature retina proliferate, exit the cell cycle and generate neurons and one glial cell type in a prescribed temporal sequence. While some aspects of progenitor behavior are controlled cell intrinsically, extrinsic signals present in the retina environment have been shown to impact on proliferation, differentiation and cell fate of progenitors. Intercellular signaling proteins of the Hedgehog (Hh) family regulate several aspects of visual system development in vertebrates-ranging from early eye field patterning to retinal and optic nerve development. This review highlights the role of Hh signaling on retinal progenitor proliferation and diversification.
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