, Volume 10, Issue 2-3, pp 169-184

Retinoic acid and retinoic acid receptors in development

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Abstract

The vitamin A derivative retinoic acid (RA) and related compounds (retinoids) are utilized as signaling molecules in a diverse array of developmental and physiological regulatory processes, including many important in the developing and mature nervous system. Retinoids function by interaction with high affinity receptors of the nuclear receptor family, which also mediate the effects of steroid and thyroid hormones and which act in the nucleus as transcription factors. This review summarizes current knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of retinoid action, the complex role of retinoid receptors in a variety of hormonal signaling processes, and illustrates current efforts to more fully understand the biological functions of retinoid receptors through analysis of downstream gene regulatory networks and studies of mouse gene knockout systems.