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J Biol Chem. 2003 Mar 14;278(11):9856-61. Epub 2003 Jan 7.

Mouse retinal dehydrogenase 4 (RALDH4), molecular cloning, cellular expression, and activity in 9-cis-retinoic acid biosynthesis in intact cells.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


This study describes cDNA cloning and characterization of mouse RALDH4. The 2.3-kb cDNA encodes an aldehyde dehydrogenase of 487 amino acid residues, about two-orders of magnitude more active in vitro with 9-cis-retinal than with all-trans-retinal. RALDH4 recognizes as substrate 9-cis-retinal generated in transfected cells by the short-chain dehydrogenases CRAD1, CRAD3, or RDH1, to reconstitute a path of 9-cis-retinoic acid biosynthesis in situ. Northern blot analysis showed expression of RALDH4 mRNA in adult mouse liver and kidney. In situ hybridization revealed expression of RALDH4 in liver on embryo day 14.5, in adult hepatocytes, and kidney cortex. Immunohistochemistry confirmed RALDH4 expression in hepatocytes and showed that hepatocytes also express RALDH1, RALDH2, and RALDH3. Kidney expresses the RALDH4 protein primarily in the proximal and distal convoluted tubules of the cortex but not in the glomeruli or the medulla. Kidney expresses RALDH2 in the proximal convoluted tubules of the cortex but not in the distal convoluted tubules or glomeruli. Kidney expresses RALDH1 and RALDH2 in the medulla. The enzymatic characteristics of RALDH4, its expression in fetal liver, and its unique expression pattern in adult kidney compared with RALDH1, -2, and -3 suggest that it could meet specific needs for 9-cis-retinoic acid biosynthesis.

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