Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 214, Issue 9, pp 432–441 | Cite as

A conserved role for retinoid signaling in vertebrate pancreas development

  • D. Stafford
  • A. Hornbruch
  • P. R. Mueller
  • V.  E. Prince
Original Article


Retinoic acid (RA) signaling plays critical roles in the regionalization of the central nervous system and mesoderm of all vertebrates that have been examined. However, to date, a role for RA in pancreas and liver development has only been demonstrated for the teleost zebrafish. Here, we demonstrate that RA signaling is required for development of the pancreas but not the liver in the amphibian Xenopus laevis and the avian quail. We disrupted RA signaling in Xenopus tadpoles, using both a pharmacological and a dominant-negative strategy. RA-deficient quail embryos were obtained from hens with a dietary deficiency in vitamin A. In both species we found that pancreas development was dependent on RA signaling. Furthermore, treatment of Xenopus tadpoles with exogenous RA led to an expansion of the pancreatic field. By contrast, liver development was not perturbed by manipulation of RA signaling. Taken together with our previous finding that RA signaling is necessary and sufficient for zebrafish pancreas development, these data support the hypothesis that a critical role for RA signaling in pancreas development is a conserved feature of the vertebrates.


Pancreas Liver Xenopus Quail Retinoic acid 



We are indebted to Aaron Zorn, Rob Baker, and Maya Kumar for supplying probes. We also thank Aaron Zorn for comments on the manuscript. We are grateful to Hazel Sive for supplying DN-RAR constructs, and to Emily Gale for supplying the VAD quail embryos from the breeding colony at King’s College London, funded by BBSRC. This work was supported by NIH grant No. RO1 DK064973-01 and JDRF grant No. 1-2003-257 to VEP, and NIH grant No. RO1 CA84007 to PRM.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Stafford
    • 1
  • A. Hornbruch
    • 2
  • P. R. Mueller
    • 3
  • V.  E. Prince
    • 4
  1. 1.The Committee on Developmental BiologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.The Department of Organismal Biology and AnatomyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and Center for Molecular Oncology, Committees on Developmental Biology, Cancer Biology, and GeneticsUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.The Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, and The Committees on Developmental Biology, Neurobiology, Evolutionary Biology, and GeneticsThe University of ChicagoUSA

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