Darwin described the eye as one of his “Organs of Extreme Perfection and Complication” in the Origin of Species. This module covers the molecular genetic basis of eye evolution and development and relates this to diseases, including lens and retinal defects causing blindness. Topics include a cross-species examination of eye evolution, including consideration of the ‘Light-Switch Theory’ that the acquisition by animals of the ability to detect and respond to light contributed towards the Cambrian explosion (the rapid appearance of most major groups of animals 530 million years ago); the molecular genetic basis of eye/lens development and disease will be discussed, including the role of Pax6 (the so-called master regulator) in eye development. Then, the molecular genetic basis of binocular vision (i.e. why we have two eyes) will be examined, including consideration of important molecules such as Wnt/frizzled signaling and the involvement of genes, such as sonic hedgehog and cyclops. Finally, the potential of the lens to regenerate in fish and newts will be considered and the potential to use stem cells in the eye for ocular disease therapy will be discussed.
Wednesdays 3-5 pm Auk room, Zoology Bldg
Topics to be Covered:
Oct 1 and 8: Eye Evolution
Oct 15 and 29: Development of Binocular Vision
Nov 5: Study Week
Nov 12 and 19: Lens Development
Nov 26, Dec 3, Dec 10: Stem Cells in the Eye and Regeneration
Assessment: 10% Continuous assessment (CA); 90% Exam
CA: 10% = individual essay/review of an eye regeneration/stem cells journal article (1500 words max, plus references)
Suggested papers are on the reading list….
There will be NO questions on Stem Cells in the Eye and Regeneration in the end of year exam!
To be handed in by Friday Dec 19th to Fiona in the Zoology Office (by Noon)
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