Pattern formation in the Drosophila eye

Richard W. Carthew*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The insect compound eye is one of the most precise and highly ordered patterns in the living world. It develops from an unpatterned simple epithelium by a series of cell fate decisions and complex morphogenetic movements. In the first days of metamorphosis, this interplay is particularly noticeable. Recent insights have revealed how interactions between neighboring cells drive the process. Interaction between Delta on cone cells and Notch proteins on the surface of their neighbors induces the first pigment cells to differentiate. The primary pigment cells then express a Nephrin protein, Hibris, that interacts with a different Nephrin, Roughest, on their neighbors. Heterophilic adhesion between Hibris and Roughest results in remodeling contacts between cells to favor their contact with the pigment cells. In conjunction, the primary pigment cells signal to their neighbors through the EGF receptor to survive, rather than undergo apoptosis. This sorting and culling process results in a sculpted pattern with a precise number and position of cells that is repeated hundreds of times in each compound eye.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-313
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Genetics and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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