Gene networks: Dissecting pathways in retinal development and disease

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During retinal neurogenesis, diverse cellular subtypes originate from multipotent neural progenitors in a spatiotemporal order leading to a highly specialized laminar structure combined with a distinct mosaic architecture. This is driven by the combinatorial action of transcription factors and signaling molecules which specify cell fate and differentiation. The emerging approach of gene network analysis has allowed a better understanding of the functional relationships between genes expressed in the developing retina. For instance, these gene networks have identified transcriptional hubs that have revealed potential targets and pathways for the development of therapeutic options for retinal diseases. Much of the current knowledge has been informed by targeted gene deletion experiments and gain-of-functional analysis. In this review we will provide an update on retinal development gene networks and address the wider implications for future disease therapeutics.

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