Talk:Developmental Signals - Retinoic acid

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2021, September 25) Embryology Developmental Signals - Retinoic acid. Retrieved from

10 Most Recent Papers

Note - This sub-heading shows an automated computer PubMed search using the listed sub-heading term. References appear in this list based upon the date of the actual page viewing. Therefore the list of references do not reflect any editorial selection of material based on content or relevance. In comparison, references listed on the content page and discussion page (under the publication year sub-headings) do include editorial selection based upon relevance and availability. (More? Pubmed Most Recent)

Developmental Signal Retinoic acid

<pubmed limit=5>Developmental Signal Retinoic acid</pubmed>


Visualization of an endogenous retinoic acid gradient across embryonic development

Nature. 2013 Apr 18;496(7445):363-6. doi: 10.1038/nature12037. Epub 2013 Apr 7.

Shimozono S, Iimura T, Kitaguchi T, Higashijima S, Miyawaki A. Source Laboratory for Cell Function Dynamics, Brain Science Institute, RIKEN, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako-city, Saitama 351-0198, Japan.


In vertebrate development, the body plan is determined by primordial morphogen gradients that suffuse the embryo. Retinoic acid (RA) is an important morphogen involved in patterning the anterior-posterior axis of structures, including the hindbrain and paraxial mesoderm. RA diffuses over long distances, and its activity is spatially restricted by synthesizing and degrading enzymes. However, gradients of endogenous morphogens in live embryos have not been directly observed; indeed, their existence, distribution and requirement for correct patterning remain controversial. Here we report a family of genetically encoded indicators for RA that we have termed GEPRAs (genetically encoded probes for RA). Using the principle of fluorescence resonance energy transfer we engineered the ligand-binding domains of RA receptors to incorporate cyan-emitting and yellow-emitting fluorescent proteins as fluorescence resonance energy transfer donor and acceptor, respectively, for the reliable detection of ambient free RA. We created three GEPRAs with different affinities for RA, enabling the quantitative measurement of physiological RA concentrations. Live imaging of zebrafish embryos at the gastrula and somitogenesis stages revealed a linear concentration gradient of endogenous RA in a two-tailed source-sink arrangement across the embryo. Modelling of the observed linear RA gradient suggests that the rate of RA diffusion exceeds the spatiotemporal dynamics of embryogenesis, resulting in stability to perturbation. Furthermore, we used GEPRAs in combination with genetic and pharmacological perturbations to resolve competing hypotheses on the structure of the RA gradient during hindbrain formation and somitogenesis. Live imaging of endogenous concentration gradients across embryonic development will allow the precise assignment of molecular mechanisms to developmental dynamics and will accelerate the application of approaches based on morphogen gradients to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

PMID 23563268


Retinoic Acid signalling and the control of meiotic entry in the human fetal gonad

PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20249. Epub 2011 Jun 3.

Childs AJ, Cowan G, Kinnell HL, Anderson RA, Saunders PT. Source Medical Research Council Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, The Queen's Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.


The development of mammalian fetal germ cells along oogenic or spermatogenic fate trajectories is dictated by signals from the surrounding gonadal environment. Germ cells in the fetal testis enter mitotic arrest, whilst those in the fetal ovary undergo sex-specific entry into meiosis, the initiation of which is thought to be mediated by selective exposure of fetal ovarian germ cells to mesonephros-derived retinoic acid (RA). Aspects of this model are hard to reconcile with the spatiotemporal pattern of germ cell differentiation in the human fetal ovary, however. We have therefore examined the expression of components of the RA synthesis, metabolism and signalling pathways, and their downstream effectors and inhibitors in germ cells around the time of the initiation of meiosis in the human fetal gonad. Expression of the three RA-synthesising enzymes, ALDH1A1, 2 and 3 in the fetal ovary and testis was equal to or greater than that in the mesonephros at 8-9 weeks gestation, indicating an intrinsic capacity within the gonad to synthesise RA. Using immunohistochemistry to detect RA receptors RARα, β and RXRα, we find germ cells to be the predominant target of RA signalling in the fetal human ovary, but also reveal widespread receptor nuclear localization indicative of signalling in the testis, suggesting that human fetal testicular germ cells are not efficiently shielded from RA by the action of the RA-metabolising enzyme CYP26B1. Consistent with this, expression of CYP26B1 was greater in the human fetal ovary than testis, although the sexually-dimorphic expression patterns of the germ cell-intrinsic regulators of meiotic initiation, STRA8 and NANOS2, appear conserved. Finally, we demonstrate that RA induces a two-fold increase in STRA8 expression in cultures of human fetal testis, but is not sufficient to cause widespread meiosis-associated gene expression. Together, these data indicate that while local production of RA within the fetal ovary may be important in regulating the onset of meiosis in the human fetal ovary, mechanisms other than CYP26B1-mediated metabolism of RA may exist to inhibit the entry of germ cells into meiosis in the human fetal testis.

PMID: 21674038

Retinoic acid functions as a key GABAergic differentiation signal in the basal ganglia

PLoS Biol. 2011 Apr;9(4):e1000609. Epub 2011 Apr 12. Chatzi C, Brade T, Duester G. Source Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Development and Aging Program, La Jolla, California, United States of America.


Although retinoic acid (RA) has been implicated as an extrinsic signal regulating forebrain neurogenesis, the processes regulated by RA signaling remain unclear. Here, analysis of retinaldehyde dehydrogenase mutant mouse embryos lacking RA synthesis demonstrates that RA generated by Raldh3 in the subventricular zone of the basal ganglia is required for GABAergic differentiation, whereas RA generated by Raldh2 in the meninges is unnecessary for development of the adjacent cortex. Neurospheres generated from the lateral ganglionic eminence (LGE), where Raldh3 is highly expressed, produce endogenous RA, which is required for differentiation to GABAergic neurons. In Raldh3⁻/⁻ embryos, LGE progenitors fail to differentiate into either GABAergic striatal projection neurons or GABAergic interneurons migrating to the olfactory bulb and cortex. We describe conditions for RA treatment of human embryonic stem cells that result in efficient differentiation to a heterogeneous population of GABAergic interneurons without the appearance of GABAergic striatal projection neurons, thus providing an in vitro method for generation of GABAergic interneurons for further study. Our observation that endogenous RA is required for generation of LGE-derived GABAergic neurons in the basal ganglia establishes a key role for RA signaling in development of the forebrain.

PMID: 21532733

Loss of RA Signaling

Oikopleura dioica, which is an anomaly among chordates. It has retained the fundamental body plan of the chordate; yet, it has lost the mechanism for retinoic acid signaling which operates during chordate development. Holland, Linda Z. "Developmental biology: A chordate with a difference." Nature 447.1 (2007): 153-55.