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Sui Wang, Constance L. Cepko; Photoreceptor Fate Determination in the Vertebrate Retina. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(5):ORSFe1-ORSFe6. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-17672.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Photoreceptors are highly specialized primary sensory neurons that sense light and initiate vision. This critical role is well demonstrated by the fact that visual impairment accompanies photoreceptor loss or dysfunction in many human diseases. With the remarkable advances in stem cell research, one therapeutic approach is to use stem cells to generate photoreceptors and then engraft them into diseased eyes. Knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that control photoreceptor genesis during normal development can greatly aid in the production of photoreceptor cells for this approach. This article will discuss advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate photoreceptor fate determination during development. Recent lineage studies have shown that there are distinct retinal progenitor cells (RPCs) that produce specific combinations of daughter cell types, including photoreceptors and other types of retinal cells. Gene regulatory networks, in which transcription factors interact via cis-regulatory DNA elements, have been discovered that operate within distinct RPCs, and/or newly postmitotic cells, to direct the choice of photoreceptor fate.
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