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Dev Genes Evol. 2004 Sep;214(9):432-41. Epub 2004 Aug 18.

A conserved role for retinoid signaling in vertebrate pancreas development.

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The Committee on Developmental Biology, The University of Chicago, 1027 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Retinoic acid (RA) signaling plays critical roles in the regionalization of the central nervous system and mesoderm of all vertebrates that have been examined. However, to date, a role for RA in pancreas and liver development has only been demonstrated for the teleost zebrafish. Here, we demonstrate that RA signaling is required for development of the pancreas but not the liver in the amphibian Xenopus laevis and the avian quail. We disrupted RA signaling in Xenopus tadpoles, using both a pharmacological and a dominant-negative strategy. RA-deficient quail embryos were obtained from hens with a dietary deficiency in vitamin A. In both species we found that pancreas development was dependent on RA signaling. Furthermore, treatment of Xenopus tadpoles with exogenous RA led to an expansion of the pancreatic field. By contrast, liver development was not perturbed by manipulation of RA signaling. Taken together with our previous finding that RA signaling is necessary and sufficient for zebrafish pancreas development, these data support the hypothesis that a critical role for RA signaling in pancreas development is a conserved feature of the vertebrates.

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