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REVIEW: The Eye of Drosophila as a Model System for Studying Intracellular Signaling in Ontogenesis and Pathogenesis

V. L. Katanaev1,2* and M. V. Kryuchkov1

1Institute of Protein Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, 142290 Pushchino, Moscow Region, Russia

2Département de Pharmacologie et Toxicologie, Université de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; E-mail: vladimir.katanaev@unil.ch

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received May 30, 2011; Revision received July 8, 2011
Many human diseases are caused by malfunction of basic types of cellular activity such as proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, cell polarization, and migration. In turn, these processes are associated with different routes of intracellular signal transduction. A number of model systems have been designed to study normal and abnormal cellular and molecular processes associated with pathogenesis. The developing eye of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is one of these systems. The sequential development of compound eyes of this insect makes it possible to model human neurodegenerative diseases and mechanisms of carcinogenesis. In this paper we overview the program of the eye development in Drosophila, with emphasis on intracellular signaling pathways that regulate this complex process. We discuss in detail the roles of the Notch, Hedgehog, TGFβ, Wnt, and receptor tyrosine kinase signaling pathways in Drosophila eye development and human pathology. We also briefly describe the modern methods of experimentation with this model organism to analyze the function of human pathogenic proteins.
KEY WORDS: Drosophila, eye development, signal transduction, cancer, Notch, Hedgehog, Wnt, RTK, model

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297911130116