In Drosophila eye development, a wave of differentiation follows a morphogenetic furrow progressing across the eye imaginal disc. This is subject to negative regulation attributed to the HLH repressor proteins Hairy and Extramacrochaete. Recent studies identify negative feedback on the bHLH gene daughterless as one of the main functions of extramacrochaete. Here the role of hairy was assessed in relation to daughterless and other HLH genes. Hairy was not found to regulate the expression of Daughterless, Extramacrochaete or Atonal, and Hairy expression was largely unregulated by these other genes. Null alleles of hairy did not alter the rate or pattern of differentiation, either alone or in the absence of Extramacrochaete. These findings question whether hairy is an important regulator of the progression of retinal differentiation in Drosophila, alone or redundantly with extramacrochaete.
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