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Mic FA, Sirbu IO, Duester G. Retinoic acid synthesis controlled by Raldh2 is required early for limb bud initiation and then later as a proximodistal signal during apical ectodermal ridge formation. . Journal of Biological Chemistry, 279(25), pp. 26698-706, 2004.

Abstract: We present evidence for the existence of two phases of retinoic acid (RA) signaling required for vertebrate limb development. Limb RA synthesis is under the control of retinaldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (Raldh2) expressed in the lateral plate mesoderm, which generates a proximodistal RA signal during limb outgrowth. We report that Raldh2-/- embryos lack trunk mesodermal RA activity and fail to initiate forelimb development. This is associated with deficient expression of important limb determinants Tbx5, Meis2, and dHand needed to establish forelimb bud initiation, proximal identity, and the zone of polarizing activity (ZPA), respectively. Limb expression of these genes can be rescued by maternal RA treatment limited to embryonic day 8 (E8) during limb field establishment, but the mutant forelimbs obtained at E10 display a significant growth defect associated with a smaller apical ectodermal ridge (AER), referred to here as an apical ectodermal mound (AEM). In these RA-deficient forelimbs, a ZPA expressing Shh forms, but it is located distally adjacent to the Fgf8 expression domain in the AEM rather than posteriorly as is normal. AER formation in Raldh2-/- forelimbs is rescued by continuous RA treatment through E10, which restores RA to distal ectoderm fated to become the AER. Our findings indicate the existence of an early phase of RA signaling acting upstream of Tbx5, Meis2, and dHand, followed by a late phase of RA signaling needed to expand AER structure fully along the distal ectoderm. During ZPA formation, RA acts early to activate expression of dHand, but it is not required later for Shh activation.

Keywords: Retinoic acid, forelimb, apical ectodermal ridge, Fgf8, Raldh2, ZPA, mouse

Posted by Ioan Ovidiu Sirbu

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