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Evodevo. 2018 Apr 21;9:10. doi: 10.1186/s13227-018-0098-x. eCollection 2018.

The role of retinoic acid signaling in starfish metamorphosis.

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Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572 Japan.



Although retinoic acid (RA) signaling plays a crucial role in the body patterning of chordates, its function in non-chordate invertebrates, other than its mediation of environmental cues triggering metamorphosis in cnidarians, is largely unknown. We investigated the role of RA signaling in the metamorphosis of starfish (Echinodermata).


We found that exogenous RA treatment induced metamorphosis in starfish larvae. In contrast, inhibitors of RA synthesis and RA receptors suppressed metamorphosis triggered by attachment to a substrate. Gene expressions of the RA signaling component were detected in competent larvae.


This study provides insight into the ancestral function of RA signaling, which is conserved in the metamorphosis of cnidarians and starfish.


Echinoderm; Metamorphosis; Retinoic acid signaling; Starfish

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