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Dev Dyn. 1998 Oct;213(2):188-98.

Initial retinoid requirement for early avian development coincides with retinoid receptor coexpression in the precardiac fields and induction of normal cardiovascular development.

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  • 1Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1224, USA.


Vitamin A requirement for early embryonic development is clearly evident in the gross cardiovascular and central nervous system abnormalities and an early death of the vitamin A-deficient quail embryo. This retinoid knockout model system was used to examine the biological activity of various natural retinoids in early cardiovascular development. We demonstrate that all-trans-, 9-cis-, 4-oxo-, and didehydroretinoic acids, and didehydroretinol and all-trans-retinol induce and maintain normal cardiovascular development as well as induce expression of the retinoic acid receptor beta2 in the vitamin A-deficient quail embryo. The expression of RARbeta2 is at the same level and at the same sites where it is expressed in the normal embryo. Retinoids provided to the vitamin A-deficient embryo up to the 5-somite stage of development, but not later, completely rescue embryonic development, suggesting the 5-somite stage as a critical retinoid-sensitive time point during early avian embryogenesis. Retinoid receptors RARalpha, RARgamma, and RXRalpha are expressed in both the precardiac endoderm and mesoderm in the normal and the vitamin A-deficient quail embryo, while the expression of RXRgamma is restricted to precardiac endoderm. Vitamin A deficiency downregulates the expression of RARalpha and RARbeta. Our studies provide strong evidence for a narrow retinoid-requiring developmental window during early embryogenesis, in which the presence of bioactive retinoids and their receptors is essential for a subsequent normal embryonic development.

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