Role of growth regulatory pathways in eye development and differentiation

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Biology


Department of Biology


Advisor: Kango-Singh Madhuri


Key genetic pathways are utilized for multiple functions within organisms. The novel functions of such pathways provide organisms with the ability to have increased complexity. During development, growth regulation and differentiation work together to sculpt the final shape of an organ. For this reason it makes sense why key genetic pathways would have function in not only growth regulation, but also differentiation. One pathway that may have this capability is the Hippo signaling pathway, a known growth regulatory pathway. This is a highly conserved pathway between insects and humans. Since Drosophila melanogaster is a favored genetic model in studying patterning and growth, we employ the use of this model system in order to understand the role of this known growth regulatory pathway's involvement in not only growth, but also in retinal development and differentiation. There are five major genes within the Hippo pathway, hippo (hpo), salvador (sav), warts (wts), mob as tumor suppressor (mats) and yorkie (yki). These components have been shown to be involved in growth, cell survival and are required to control organ size. Though the Hippo signaling pathway has been well researched for its involvement in growth and cell survival, its involvement in other developmental processes, such as differentiation is still unknown. This project aims to define the Hippo signaling pathways involvement in differentiation of the developing eye and deciphers the mechanism by which this pathway regulates differentiation. This was done by utilizing techniques such as the GAL4/UAS system and the ̀Flp-out' clone method. These techniques allowed us to assay the effects of Hippo pathway components on the differentiation of developing eye imaginal disc cells. Results displayed that the Hippo signaling pathway was indeed involved in the process of differentiation within the developing eye field. We found that when there was a loss of function of the Hippo signaling pathway, the co-activator yki was activated and in turn activated the downstream component wg, while suppressing the expression of retinal determination genes. wg can then suppress the progression of the morphogenetic furrow. This genetic signaling regulates the suppression of retinal differentiation within the developing eye. These results display that the Hippo signaling pathway has a novel function in cell differentiation.


Cell differentiation, Cellular control mechanisms, Drosophila melanogaster Genetics, Developmental Biology, Biology, Genetics, Differentiation, Hippo signaling pathway, eye development, Drosophila

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Copyright © 2014, author