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. 2017 Dec;74(24):4599-4619.
doi: 10.1007/s00018-017-2600-3. Epub 2017 Jul 22.

Retinoic Acid Regulates Avian Lung Branching Through a Molecular Network


Retinoic Acid Regulates Avian Lung Branching Through a Molecular Network

Hugo Fernandes-Silva et al. Cell Mol Life Sci. .


Retinoic acid (RA) is of major importance during vertebrate embryonic development and its levels need to be strictly regulated otherwise congenital malformations will develop. Through the action of specific nuclear receptors, named RAR/RXR, RA regulates the expression of genes that eventually influence proliferation and tissue patterning. RA has been described as crucial for different stages of mammalian lung morphogenesis, and as part of a complex molecular network that contributes to precise organogenesis; nonetheless, nothing is known about its role in avian lung development. The current report characterizes, for the first time, the expression pattern of RA signaling members (stra6, raldh2, raldh3, cyp26a1, rarα, and rarβ) and potential RA downstream targets (sox2, sox9, meis1, meis2, tgfβ2, and id2) by in situ hybridization. In the attempt of unveiling the role of RA in chick lung branching, in vitro lung explants were performed. Supplementation studies revealed that RA stimulates lung branching in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, the expression levels of cyp26a1, sox2, sox9, rarβ, meis2, hoxb5, tgfβ2, id2, fgf10, fgfr2, and shh were evaluated after RA treatment to disclose a putative molecular network underlying RA effect. In situ hybridization analysis showed that RA is able to alter cyp26a1, sox9, tgfβ2, and id2 spatial distribution; to increase rarβ, meis2, and hoxb5 expression levels; and has a very modest effect on sox2, fgf10, fgfr2, and shh expression levels. Overall, these findings support a role for RA in the proximal-distal patterning and branching morphogenesis of the avian lung and reveal intricate molecular interactions that ultimately orchestrate branching morphogenesis.

Keywords: Branching morphogenesis; Chick lung; Pulmonary development; Signaling pathways; sox2; sox9.

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