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Researchers find signal that switches on eye development -- could lead to 'eye in a dish'
Date:10/24/2007

s experiencing much higher levels of ADP. The Warwick team hypothesized that ATP must be released in a short burst from the location where the eye will develop so that it can be converted to ADP by E-NTPDase2, thereby providing the trigger for eye development. They were able to measure these short bursts of ATP using ATP sensors specially developed by Professor Dale. This is the first time researchers have been able to see and measure bursts of ATP so early in the development of living creatures.

The genes that initiate and direct eye development are well known and are collectively termed the Eye Field Transcription Factors (EFTFs). One of the mysteries of the field is how these genes get turned on in the correct location and at the correct time to initiate eye development. The Warwick research shows that this short burst of ATP followed by accumulation of ADP is a key signal for initiating expression of the EFTFs and hence the development of the eye.

The discovery of this surprising new signal that literally switches on eye development it is not restricted to frogs. Mutations to the E-NTPDase2 gene on the human 9th chromosome is already known to cause severe head and eye defects. This suggests that this newly discovered mechanism for triggering eye development applies across a wide range of species.

This new understanding of how eye development is triggered will greatly assist researchers exploring stem cells connected to eye development and opens up an avenue of a research that could in just a few decades lead to the ability to produce an eye in a dish.


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Contact: Peter Dunn
p.j.dunn@warwick.ac.uk
0247-652-3708
University of Warwick
Source:Eurekalert

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