Medical Research Council - Clinical Services Centre

Square Eyes
04 January 2012

Square Eyes

From beeswax sculpted into honeycomb to grains arranged on an ear of wheat, nature’s patterns are everywhere. Early in development, cells (1/600 cm wide) in the retina of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, arrange themselves into a hexagonal pattern. The process – known as morphogenesis – can be interrupted by the loss of a single gene. Pictured here is a scanning electron micrograph of a fly retina with a mutant form of a gene called dRASSF8. The hexagonal pattern is replaced with a series of square-shaped cells. dRASSF8 is important for cell-cell adhesion, which helps cells assemble into tissues and organs. The human form of the gene (RASSF8) is thought to play a similarly crucial role in development.

Written by John Ankers

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