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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Sep 15;88(18):8272-6.

Retinoic acid affects the expression of nuclear retinoic acid receptors in tissues of retinol-deficient rats.

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Department of Biochemistry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232.


The multitude of biological effects of the vitamin A metabolite, retinoic acid, are mediated by nuclear retinoic acid receptors (RARs), which are members of the steroid/thyroid hormone receptor superfamily. RAR-alpha, -beta, and -gamma are encoded by three genes from which multiple isoforms can be generated. Recent studies suggest that the expression of at least some RAR isoforms can be regulated by retinoic acid in certain cell lines. Here we examined regulation of RAR expression in the adult animal. RARs were analyzed by Northern blots from lung, liver, and testes of retinol-deficient rats. Retinol deficiency caused a 65-70% decrease in the mRNA levels of lung and liver RAR-beta, whereas no change was observed in RAR-alpha and -gamma mRNA levels in these organs. In the testes of retinol-deficient animals, two transcripts, RAR-alpha 1 (3.7 kb) and RAR-alpha 2 (2.8 kb), were detected as compared with one RAR-alpha 1 (3.7 kb) transcript in retinol-sufficient testes. When retinol-deficient rats were orally administered 1 dose of retinoic acid (100 micrograms per rat), lung RAR-beta mRNA levels started to increase after 1 hr and reached a 16-fold higher level after 4 hr; after 4 hr these retinoic acid-fed rats also showed a 7-fold increase in liver RAR-beta mRNA levels as compared with levels in the retinol-deficient rats. In contrast, liver, lung, and testes RAR-alpha transcripts remained either unchanged or showed only a slight increase in response to retinoic acid. RAR-gamma was constitutively expressed in lung, and its mRNA levels were induced 2-fold by retinoic acid. These results show tissue diversity in the rapid induction of RAR-beta and RAR-gamma by retinoic acid in the adult animal and suggest distinct roles for the various receptor isoforms in the control of the retinoid response.

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