Differential expression of retinoic acid-synthesizing (RALDH) enzymes during fetal development and organ differentiation in the mouse

Mech Dev. 2002 Jan;110(1-2):165-71. doi: 10.1016/s0925-4773(01)00561-5.


Three retinaldehyde dehydrogenases (RALDH1, RALDH2 and RALDH3), which catalyze the oxidation of retinaldehyde into retinoic acid, have been shown to be differentially expressed during early embryogenesis. Here, we report their differential expression patterns throughout later mouse organogenesis. Raldh1 is prominently expressed in developing lung (notably in bronchial and tracheal epithelia), and shows stage-specific expression in stomach and intestine epithelial and mesenchymal layers. Raldh3 expression is specific to the differentiating intestinal lamina propria. Raldh2 is expressed throughout the kidney nephrogenic zone, whereas Raldh1 and Raldh3 are mostly expressed in collecting duct epithelia. Raldh3 expression is more restricted than that of Raldh1 in the urogenital tract and sex gland epithelia, whereas Raldh2 expression is mesenchymal. Raldh1 is coexpressed with Raldh2 in the early heart epicardium, and is later specifically expressed in developing heart valves. All three genes exhibit distinct expression patterns in respiratory and olfactory epithelia and/or mesenchymes, and in developing teeth. Only Raldh1 expression is seen after birth in specific brain structures. These data indicate a requirement for regulated RA synthesis in various differentiating organs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / embryology
  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / genetics*
  • Facial Bones / embryology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Hair Follicle / embryology
  • Heart Valves / embryology
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Organ Specificity
  • Retinal Dehydrogenase
  • Skull / embryology
  • Tooth / embryology
  • Tretinoin / metabolism*


  • Tretinoin
  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases
  • Retinal Dehydrogenase