My work focuses on how photoreceptors in the Drosophila compound eye initiate the expression of the proteins that are involved in the phototransduction cascade. This process happens by the end of metamorphosis and, importantly, it is essential to enable the eye to sense light.
In our lab I have found that the transcription factor Glass, which is expressed in all types of Drosophilaphotoreceptors, plays a key role for their maturation. Mutant flies in which the glass gene is not functional fail to express virtually all phototransduction proteins in their retinas, and, consequently, they are blind. We have proposed that Glass acts as a transcriptional link between the expression of the early-acting “Retinal Determination Network” transcription factors (such as Eyeless, Sine oculis, or Eyes absent) and the expression of those genes which are present in terminally differentiated photoreceptors, such as opsins, which are important for the transduction of visual stimuli.
At the moment I am investigating which genes are direct targets of Glass. Also, I would like to know whether the role of Glass during photoreceptor differentiation is evolutionarily conserved outsideDrosophila.
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