Two isoforms of RAR-gamma2 are differentially expressed in Xenopus laevis embryos, and respond differently to treatment with retinoic acid

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Developmental Genetics (now Genesis)





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Retinoic acid receptors, retinoic acid, Xenopus, CNS, pattern formation, ultraviolet

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We report the isolation of two retinoic acid receptor isoforms (RAR gamma), which differ only in the 5'untranslated and putative N-terminus A regions. The two isoforms appear to serve as early markers for the presumptive neural axis; however, their expression patterns differ. RAR-gamma 2.1 is first expressed at gastrulation at the dorsal lip and subsequently along the presumptive neural axis. RAR- gamma 2.2 represents the full-length sequence of a receptor cDNA already partially characterized and present as a maternal transcript [Ellinger-Ziegelbauer and Dreyer (1991); Genes Dev 5:94-104, (1993): Mech Dev 41:31-46; Pfeffer and DeRobertis, (1994) Mech Dev: 45:147-153]. Unlike RAR-gamma 2.2, the 2.1 variant is not expressed either in pre-somitic mesoderm or notochord. RAR-gamma 2.1 is strongly expressed in branchial arches and to a lesser extent in the neural floor plate. The two isoforms also exhibit differential sensitivity to retinoic acid. Constitutive expression of RAR gamma 2.2 following neurulation appears to be depressed by treatment with retinoic acid, but domains of highest expression, namely, the head and tail, remain relatively unaffected, as do patterns of expression prior to late neurulation. By contrast, RAR-gamma 2.1 is not transcribed in retinoid-inhibited structures. Using microinjection techniques, we show that changes of RAR-gamma 2.1 expression in presumptive head structures occur as an early and local consequence of retinoic acid administration. Since RAR-gamma 2.1 expression is inhibited by retinoic acid, we tested to see if other treatments that perturb axis formation had any effect. Surprisingly, UV irradiation did not suppress that its inhibition by retinoic acid is not due solely to inhibition of anterior neural development. These experiments demonstrate a new subdivision of isoforms that undergo differential expression during development and that exhibit differential sensitivity to retinoic acid and to UV. This sensitivity and the presence of this isoform variant in regions that are known to exhibit polarizing activity strengthen the hypothesis that these receptors play a primary role during morphogenesis.