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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Oct 4;108(40):16687-92. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103877108. Epub 2011 Sep 19.

Involvement of retinol dehydrogenase 10 in embryonic patterning and rescue of its loss of function by maternal retinaldehyde treatment.

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  • 1Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Illkirch F-67404, France.


Retinoic acid (RA), an active vitamin A metabolite, is a key signaling molecule in vertebrate embryos. Morphogenetic RA gradients are thought to be set up by tissue-specific actions of retinaldehyde dehydrogenases (RALDHs) and catabolizing enzymes. According to the species, two enzymatic pathways (β-carotene cleavage and retinol oxidation) generate retinaldehyde, the substrate of RALDHs. Placental species depend on maternal retinol transferred to the embryo. The retinol-to-retinaldehyde conversion was thought to be achieved by several redundant enzymes; however, a random mutagenesis screen identified retinol dehydrogenase 10 [Rdh10(Trex) allele; Sandell LL, et al. (2007) Genes Dev 21:1113-1124] as responsible for a homozygous lethal phenotype with features of RA deficiency. We report here the production and characterization of unique murine Rdh10 loss-of-function alleles generated by gene targeting. We show that although Rdh10(-/-) mutants die at an earlier stage than Rdh10(Trex) mutants, their molecular patterning defects do not reflect a complete state of RA deficiency. Furthermore, we were able to correct most developmental abnormalities by administering retinaldehyde to pregnant mothers, thereby obtaining viable Rdh10(-/-) mutants. This demonstrates the rescue of an embryonic lethal phenotype by simple maternal administration of the missing retinoid compound. These results underscore the importance of maternal retinoids in preventing congenital birth defects, and lead to a revised model of the importance of RDH10 and RALDHs in controlling embryonic RA distribution.

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