Lens development is a stepwise process accompanied by the sequential activation of transcription factors. Transcription factor genes can be classified into three groups according to their functions: the first group comprises preplacodal genes, which are implicated in the formation of the preplacodal ectoderm that serves as a common primordium for cranial sensory tissues, including the lens. The second group comprises lens-specification genes, which establish the lens-field within the preplacodal ectoderm. The third group comprises lens-differentiation genes, which promote lens morphogenesis after the optic vesicle makes contact with the presumptive lens ectoderm. Analyses of the regulatory interactions between these genes have provided an overview of lens development, highlighting crucial roles for positive cross-regulation in fate specification and for feed-forward regulation in the execution of terminal differentiation. This overview also sheds light upon the mechanisms of how preplacodal gene activities lead to the activation of genes involved in lens-specification.
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