The ocular lens is a model system for understanding important aspects of embryonic development, such as cell specification and the spatiotemporally controlled formation of a three-dimensional structure. The lens, which is characterized by transparency, refraction and elasticity, is composed of a bulk mass of fiber cells attached to a sheet of lens epithelium. Although lens induction has been studied for over 100 years, recent findings have revealed a myriad of extracellular signaling pathways and gene regulatory networks, integrated and executed by the transcription factor Pax6, that are required for lens formation in vertebrates. This Review summarizes recent progress in the field, emphasizing the interplay between the diverse regulatory mechanisms employed to form lens progenitor and precursor cells and highlighting novel opportunities to fill gaps in our understanding of lens tissue morphogenesis.
- Cell determination
- Pre-placodal region