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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Nov 1;89(21):10056-9.

Retinoic acid is enriched in Hensen's node and is developmentally regulated in the early chicken embryo.

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Department of Biology, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242.


Retinoic acid (RA) has been considered as a potential morphogen in the chicken limb and has also been suggested to be involved in early embryonic development. On the basis of biological activity, previous reports suggest that Hensen's node, the anatomical equivalent in the chicken of the Spemann's organizer, may contain RA. Here, by using a molecular assay system, we demonstrate that Hensen's node contains retinoids in a concentration approximately 20 times more than that in the neighboring tissues. Furthermore, stage 6 Hensen's node contains approximately 3 times more retinoid than that of stage 4 embryos. These endogenous retinoids may establish a concentration gradient from Hensen's node to adjacent tissues and play a role in establishing the primary embryonic axis in the vertebrate. The results also suggest that the retinoid concentration in Hensen's node is developmentally regulated.

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