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Activation of a single retinoic acid receptor isoform mediates proximodistal respecification

Activation of a single retinoic acid receptor isoform mediates proximodistal respecification

Pecorino, Lauren T., Entwistle, Alan and Brockes, Jeremy P. (1996) Activation of a single retinoic acid receptor isoform mediates proximodistal respecification. Current Biology, 6 (5). pp. 563-569. ISSN 0960-9822 (Print), 1879-0445 (Online) (doi:

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Background: The regenerating limb of urodele amphibians is an important system for evaluating the effects of retinoic acid (RA) on pattern formation. Regeneration proceeds by local formation of the blastema, a mesenchymal growth zone which normally only gives rise to structures distal to its level of origin. RA can respecify proximodistal identity in amphibian limb regeneration, and this activity of RA on the blastema is observed in two contexts. First, exposure to RA proximalizes a distal blastema resulting in duplication of structures proximal to the level of amputation. Second, after transplantation of a distal blastema to a proximal stump, the transplanted cells normally make only a minor contribution to the intercalary regenerate, but if transplanted cells are exposed to RA they occupy positions proximal to their level of origin and contribute to the regeneration of the intermediate tissue. Multiple isoforms of RA receptors (RARs) are expressed in the newt limb and are thought to mediate the respecification of positional identity.

Results: To identify which receptor(s) mediates proximodistal respecification, we have used the biolistics (particle bombardment) technique to transfect the blastemal mesenchyme with plasmids encoding chimeric proteins containing partial amino-acid sequences of the various newt RAR isoforms fused to a partial sequence of the thyroid hormone (3,5,3′-triiodothyronine; T3) receptor. We then used T3 treatment to selectively activate individual RAR isoforms in vivo. By analyzing the distributions of transfected cells in regenerates derived from distal-to-proximal transplantation we find that activation of a single RAR isoform, δ 2, specifically mediates proximalization.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate that the ability of RA to respecify proximodistal identity is mediated by a specific RAR isoform, δ 2. Activation of the RA pathway in individual cells indicates that positional respecification can be cell-autonomous. RA can respecify axial identity in several contexts in vertebrate development, but this is the first case where the RAR mediating respecification has been identified.

Item Type: Article
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Human Sciences (HUM)
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2021 04:46

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