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ScientificWorldJournal. 2008 Feb 25;8:194-211. doi: 10.1100/tsw.2008.39.

The expanding role for retinoid signaling in heart development.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Cardiovascular Developmental Biology Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.


The importance of retinoid signaling during cardiac development has long been appreciated, but recently has become a rapidly expanding field of research. Experiments performed over 50 years ago showed that too much or too little maternal intake of vitamin A proved detrimental for embryos, resulting in a cadre of predictable cardiac developmental defects. Germline and conditional knockout mice have revealed which molecular players in the vitamin A signaling cascade are potentially responsible for regulating specific developmental events, and many of these molecules have been temporally and spatially characterized. It is evident that intact and controlled retinoid signaling is necessary for each stage of cardiac development to proceed normally, including cardiac lineage determination, heart tube formation, looping, epicardium formation, ventricular maturation, chamber and outflow tract septation, and coronary arteriogenesis. This review summarizes many of the significant milestones in this field and particular attention is given to recently uncovered cross-talk between retinoid signaling and other developmentally significant pathways. It is our hope that this review of the role of retinoid signaling during formation, remodeling, and maturation of the developing heart will serve as a tool for future discoveries.

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