This proposal is a renewal of 5R01EY013012-12 "Patterning the retina for color vision". Color vision requires the comparison between photoreceptors with different sensitivity. In Drosophila, this is achieved by photoreceptors R7 and R8. 30% of R7s contain UV-sensitive Rh3 and are associated with R8 containing blue-Rh5. The remaining 70% of R7s contain UV-Rh4 associated with R8 containing green-Rh6. This stochastic choice is made in R7 where the transcription factor Spineless activates Rh4. In the absence of spineless, R7s express Rh3 and signal R8 to express Rh5. This signal is then interpreted by a bistable loop between the Hippo/Warts tumor suppressor pathway and the growth regulator Melted. After the R8 fate is established, the Rhodopsin molecules themselves contribute to its maintenance in order to avoid co-expression of other Rhodopsins.
In aim 1, we will determine how the architecture of the Hippo/Warts pathway differs in tumor suppression where it is homeostatically regulated to control proliferation, and in R8 fate specification where t is bistable. We will determine when and how the pathway is activated and how positive feedback loops control the R8 decision. We will then analyze the cross-transcriptional repression of warts and melted.
In aim 2, we will elucidate the pathway downstream of Rhodopsins that is required for the exclusion mechanisms ensuring that a single Rhodopsin is expressed in a photoreceptor. We will also address how the Rhodopsin activity pathway interacts with the Warts/Melted bistable loop.
In aim 3, we will characterize novel regulators of the R8 subtype specification pathway that were identified in an RNAi screen. We will also take advantage of wild type natural variants that exhibit extensive co-expression of Rh5 and Rh6 to identify new factors involved in the exclusion mechanism. Finally, we will extend the RNAi screen to signaling molecules in order to target the pathway involved in the communication between R7 and R8. The results of this study will provide fundamental insights into the role of the Hippo/Warts tumor suppressor pathway in cell specification and will provide insights into sensory receptor cross- regulation. Overall, our findings will not only provide novel fundamental concepts for the field of sensory organ development, but will also contribute to cell fate specification and growth regulation.

Public Health Relevance

This project addresses fundamental questions about retinal patterning and the utilization of a tumor suppressor pathway for tissue specification. It addresses the different architectures of the regulatory network in growth control and in retinal patterning. The proposal will also provide a description of the pathway by which a sensory receptor expressed in a receptor cell is involved in the exclusion of the other receptors in this cell.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Neuhold, Lisa
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
New York University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
New York
United States
Zip Code
Neriec, Nathalie; Desplan, Claude (2014) Different ways to make neurons: parallel evolution in the SoxB family. Genome Biol 15:116
Pinto-Teixeira, Filipe; Desplan, Claude (2014) Notch activity in neural progenitors coordinates cytokinesis and asymmetric differentiation. Sci Signal 7:pe26
Wernet, Mathias F; Meier, Kerstin M; Baumann-Klausener, Franziska et al. (2014) Genetic dissection of photoreceptor subtype specification by the Drosophila melanogaster zinc finger proteins elbow and no ocelli. PLoS Genet 10:e1004210
Hsiao, Hui-Yi; Jukam, David; Johnston, Robert et al. (2013) The neuronal transcription factor erect wing regulates specification and maintenance of Drosophila R8 photoreceptor subtypes. Dev Biol 381:482-90
Jukam, David; Xie, Baotong; Rister, Jens et al. (2013) Opposite feedbacks in the Hippo pathway for growth control and neural fate. Science 342:1238016
del Valle Rodriguez, Alberto; Didiano, Dominic; Desplan, Claude (2012) Power tools for gene expression and clonal analysis in Drosophila. Nat Methods 9:47-55
Jukam, David; Desplan, Claude (2011) Binary regulation of Hippo pathway by Merlin/NF2, Kibra, Lgl, and Melted specifies and maintains postmitotic neuronal fate. Dev Cell 21:874-87
Vasiliauskas, Daniel; Mazzoni, Esteban O; Sprecher, Simon G et al. (2011) Feedback from rhodopsin controls rhodopsin exclusion in Drosophila photoreceptors. Nature 479:108-12
Keene, Alex C; Mazzoni, Esteban O; Zhen, Jamie et al. (2011) Distinct visual pathways mediate Drosophila larval light avoidance and circadian clock entrainment. J Neurosci 31:6527-34
Buckingham, Margaret; Desplan, Claude (2010) Developmental mechanisms, patterning and evolution. Curr Opin Genet Dev 20:343-5

Showing the most recent 10 out of 19 publications