Dynamic expression of the retinoic acid-synthesizing enzyme retinol dehydrogenase 10 (rdh10) in the developing mouse brain and sensory organs

J Comp Neurol. 2008 Jun 20;508(6):879-92. doi: 10.1002/cne.21707.


Organs develop through many tissue interactions during embryogenesis, involving numerous signaling cascades and gene products. One of these signaling molecules is retinoic acid (RA), an active vitamin A derivative, which in mammalian embryos is synthesized from maternal retinol by two oxidative reactions involving alcohol/retinol dehydrogenases (ADH/RDHs) and retinaldehyde dehydrogenases (RALDHs), respectively. The activity of RALDHs is known to be crucial for RA synthesis; however, recently a retinol dehydrogenase (RDH10) has been shown to represent a new limiting factor in this synthesis. We investigated the spatiotemporal distribution of Rdh10 gene transcripts by in situ hybridization and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) during development of the brain and sensory organs. Although Rdh10 relative mRNA levels decline throughout brain development, we show a strong and lasting expression in the meninges and choroid plexuses. Rdh10 expression is also specifically seen in the striatum, a known site of retinoid signaling. In the eye, regional expression is observed both in the prospective pigmented epithelium and neural retina. In the inner ear Rdh10 expression is specific to the endolymphatic system and later the stria vascularis, both organs being involved in endolymph homeostasis. Furthermore, in the peripheral olfactory system and the vibrissae follicles, expression is present from early stages in regions where sensory receptors appear and mesenchymal/epithelial interactions take place. The distribution of Rdh10 transcripts during brain and sensory organ development is consistent with a role of this enzyme in generating region-specific pools of retinaldehyde that will be used by the various RALDHs to refine the patterns of RA synthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Ear, Inner / embryology
  • Ear, Inner / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Eye / embryology
  • Eye / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Mice
  • Olfactory Pathways / embryology
  • Olfactory Pathways / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sense Organs / enzymology*
  • Sense Organs / metabolism*
  • Vibrissae / embryology
  • Vibrissae / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • trans-retinol dehydrogenase