THE compound eye of the adult fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster, comprises about 800 identical ommatidia, or unit eyes, each containing 20 distinct cells. We have used histological and immunocytochemical methods to study the development of the compound eye in Ellipse (Elp) mutants. In Elp/Elp, most ommatidia do not initiate differentiation. We present genetic evidence that Elp alleles are mutations of the Drosophila homologue of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor, and suggest that activity of the EGF receptor may determine the spacing pattern of ommatidia in the eye.
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