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Tissue Cell. 2007 Apr;39(2):123-30. Epub 2007 Mar 21.

Immunohistochemical localization of a retinoic acid-like receptor in nerve cells of two colonial anthozoans (Cnidaria).

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Département de Sciences Biologiques, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7.


Retinoic acid is known to induce vertebrate stem cells to differentiate into a variety of cell types, including neurons. Although retinoic acid was reported to affect morphogenetic pattern specification in the hydrozoan Hydractinia (Müller, W.A., 1984. Retinoids and pattern formation in a hydroid. J. Embryol. Exp. Morph. 81, 253-271) and a retinoid RXR receptor was cloned in the jellyfish Tripedalia (Kostrouch, Z., Kostrouchova, M., Love, W., Jannini, E., Piatigorsky, J., Rall, J.E., 1998. Retinoic acid X receptor in the diploblast, Tripedalia cystophora. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 95, 13442-13447), the cellular targets of retinoids were not investigated. We used Western immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry to investigate the presence and cellular distribution of a RXR-like receptor in the sea pansy Renilla koellikeri and in the staghorn coral Acropora millepora (Cnidaria, Anthozoa). Western blots revealed a 64 kDa protein from a sea pansy extract in a band that co-migrated with a RXR protein from the rat brain. Using antibodies raised against an epitope of human alpha RXR, we visualized putative ectodermal sensory cells in the polyp column of the adult sea pansy. Immunoreactivity was absent in staghorn coral larvae but present in the polyp column of adult colonies in the form of clusters of neuron-like cells in the basiectoderm near the ectoderm-mesoglea interface. These observations suggest that a RXR-like receptor is involved in epithelial nerve cell specification in adult anthozoans and that this role is conserved throughout evolution.

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