Retinoid X receptors: X-ploring their (patho)physiological functions

Cell Death Differ. 2004 Dec:11 Suppl 2:S126-43. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4401533.


Retinoid X receptor (RXR) belongs to a family of ligand-activated transcription factors that regulate many aspects of metazoan life. A class of nuclear receptors requires RXR as heterodimerization partner for their function. This places RXR in the crossroad of multiple distinct biological pathways. This and the fact that the debate on the endogenous ligand requirement for RXR is not yet settled make RXR still an enigmatic transcription factor. Here, we review some of the biology of RXR. We place RXR into the evolution of nuclear receptors, review structural details and ligands of the receptor. Then processes regulated by RXR are discussed focusing on the developmental roles deduced from studies on knockout animals and metabolic roles in diseases such as diabetes and atherosclerosis deduced from pharmacological studies. Finally, aspects of RXR's involvement in myeloid differentiation and apoptosis are summarized along with issues on RXR's suitability as a therapeutic target.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Ligands
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / physiology
  • Retinoid X Receptors / chemistry
  • Retinoid X Receptors / genetics
  • Retinoid X Receptors / physiology*


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Retinoid X Receptors