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Dev Biol. 1985 May;109(1):82-95.

A quantitative analysis of the effect of all-trans-retinoic acid on the pattern of chick wing development.


Small, positively charged beads that slowly release known amounts of all-trans-retinoic acid have been implanted below the apical ectodermal ridge at the anterior margin (opposite somite 16) of wing buds of 3 1/2 day-old chick embryos. The continuous release of retinoic acid is shown to create an anteroposterior concentration gradient of retinoic acid in the limb field that is stable with time, despite the fact that this compound is metabolized by the limb tissue. With beads that release increasing amounts of retinoic acid, the normal 234 digit pattern is progressively altered to a 2234, to a 32234, and then to a 432234 pattern. The tissue concentrations of all-trans-retinoic acid required to change the digit pattern in this way range between 1 and 25 nM. When the same amounts of retinoic acid are released from posteriorly implanted beads (placed below the apical ectodermal ridge opposite somite border 19/20 or somite 20), the normal digit pattern is unaffected. Implantations of beads that release all-trans-retinoic acid are thus identical in their effect to grafts of cells from the limb polarizing region, which cause similar dose-dependent changes in the digit pattern when grafted to the anterior margin of the bud (but not when grafted opposite somites 19 or 20). Because of the low concentrations of retinoic acid required for its biological effect, the graded response observed, and the fact that a concentration gradient is established across the limb field, all-trans-retinoic acid closely mimics the putative morphogen that has been postulated to be emitted by polarizing region cells during normal development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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