We have analysed the endogenous retinoids present in whole mouse embryos from day 9 to day 14 of development and in individual components of the embryo at two stages, day 10.5 and day 13, by HPLC. We can only detect two retinoids, all‐trans ‐RA (tRA) and all‐trans ‐retinol (t‐retinol), and t‐retinol is 5‐10‐fold in excess over tRA. We cannot detect 9‐cis ‐RA or any didehydroretinoids; thus mammalian embryos seem to differ in their retinoid content from other embryos such as chick, Xenopus, and fish. The levels of tRA do not change significantly over the 6 days of development analysed, whereas t‐retinol rises sharply as the liver develops. Within the embryo, tRA is present at high levels in the developing spinal cord and at very low levels in the forebrain; indeed there is a gradient of endogenous tRA from the forebrain to the spinal cord. Other parts of the embryo had intermediate levels of tRA. When a teratogenic dose of RA was administered to day 10.5 embryos, the levels of tRA present in individual tissues of the embryo rose dramatically—from 175‐fold to 1,400‐fold—and the levels rose in all tissues not in any exclusive areas. We then determined which areas of the embryo were malformed by such a teratogenic dose. The lower jaw, palate, vertebrae, tail, and limbs were consistently abnormal, and since these areas received a dose of tRA no higher than any other it was concluded that cell‐specific factors must determine the teratogenic response of these tissues. We then considered whether cellular retinoic acid‐binding protein I or II (CRABP I or II) played any role in this response by determining their relative levels in each of the tissues analysed. There was no correlation between the presence of CRABP I and II and the distribution of administered RA. Neither was there a clear correlation in detail between the presence of CRABP I and II and the sites of teratogenesis. We therefore conclude that other factors, for example, nuclear factors, must be responsible for the teratogenic response to RA. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
Developmental Dynamics – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1995
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