Development 2006 May;133(10):1901-10. Epub 2006 Apr
Duester, G.; Molotkov, A; Molotkova, N
Burnham Institute for Medical Research, 10901 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.
Retinoic acid (RA) is required for patterning of the posterior nervous system, but its role in the retina remains unclear. RA is synthesized in discrete regions of the embryonic eye by three retinaldehyde dehydrogenases (RALDHs) displaying distinct expression patterns. Overlapping functions of these enzymes have hampered genetic efforts to elucidate RA function in the eye. Here, we report Raldh1, Raldh2 and Raldh3 single, double and triple null mice exhibiting progressively less or no RA synthesis in the eye. Our genetic studies indicate that RA signaling is not required for the establishment or maintenance of dorsoventral patterning in the retina, as we observe normal expression of Tbx5 and ephrin B2 (Efnb2) dorsally, plus Vax2 and Ephb2 ventrally. Instead, RA is required for the morphogenetic movements needed to shape the developing retina and surrounding mesenchyme. At early stages, Raldh2 expressed in mesenchyme and Raldh3 expressed in the retinal pigmented epithelium generate RA that delivers an essential signal to the neural retina required for morphogenetic movements that lead to ventral invagination of the optic cup. At later stages, Raldh1 expressed in dorsal neural retina and Raldh3 expressed in ventral neural retina (plus weaker expression of each in lens/corneal ectoderm) generates RA that travels to surrounding mesenchyme, where it is needed to limit the anterior invasion of perioptic mesenchyme during the formation of corneal mesenchyme and eyelids. At all stages, RA target tissues are distinct from locations of RA synthesis, indicating that RALDHs function cell-nonautonomously to generate paracrine RA signals that guide morphogenetic movements in neighboring cells.