Purpose: To determine the localization of retinoic acid receptors (RAR) alpha, beta, and gamma and retinoid X receptors (RXR) alpha, beta, and gamma in developing and adult mouse eyes at the level of single cells.
Methods: Immunohistochemistry was performed on paraformaldehyde-lysine-periodate-fixed cryosections of mouse eyes, from embryonic day 10.5 to adulthood, with polyclonal antibodies directed against each receptor isoform. Histologic sections from null mutant mice for each receptor served as negative controls.
Results: RARalpha was present ubiquitously in the prenatal eye and preferentially located in the posnatal retina and ciliary body. RARbeta was detected predominantly in the periocular mesenchyme and ciliary body. RARgamma was distributed in the periocular mesenchyme, choroid, sclera, cornea, conjunctiva, and lids. RXRalpha was found preferentially in the prenatal periocular mesenchyme and retina and in the postnatal ciliary body, cornea, and conjunctiva. RXRbeta was ubiquitous at all the stages. RXRgamma was detected mainly in subsets of prenatal retinal cells and in postnatal ganglion cells as well as a subset of photoreceptor cells that were characterized as cones in adults.
Conclusions: RARalpha, beta, and gamma and RXRalpha and gamma exhibit specific and dynamic patterns of distribution in ocular tissues throughout the course of development. The abundance of RARbeta, RARgamma, and RXRalpha in the periocular mesenchyme suggests that this tissue represents an important site of retinoid actions during eye development and in adulthood.