The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 40: 1161 - 1170 (1996)

Vol 40, Issue 6

Regeneration of lower and upper jaws in urodeles is differentially affected by retinoic acid

Published: 1 December 1996

S Ghosh, P Thorogood and P Ferretti

Developmental Biology Unit, Institute of Child Health, London, United Kingdom.


The vitamin A derivative retinoic acid (RA) is a powerful teratogen which can induce severe craniofacial and limb malformations if administered at certain stages of gestation. In addition this compound has been shown to affect patterning in regenerating systems. A classical example is the induction of supernumerary structures along the proximodistal axis of the regenerating amphibian limb. We have investigated the effect of RA on other regenerating systems, the amphibian lower and upper jaws, both in developing and adult animals. We report here that RA does not induce formation of extra structures either in the lower or in the upper jaw of adult newts under experimental conditions where duplications of the regenerating limb occur. However, RA selectively induces severe malformations in the upper jaw regenerate that resemble those induced in avian and mammalian embryos. Analysis of the expression of the newt retinoic acid receptors RAR alpha and delta in upper and lower jaws showed that RAR alpha was expressed at a significant level in the wound epidermis, but not in blastemal cells, whereas no RAR delta could be detected in the regenerate either by in situ hybridization or by using an anti-RAR delta antibody. Therefore, unlike in the limb, in jaws RAR delta is not up-regulated following amputation, and this difference in expression may be causally related to the different effects induced by RA on jaws and limbs. In order to establish whether retinoids affected regeneration of developing jaws in a similar fashion, their effects were studied in animals whose jaws had been amputated at different developmental stages. Under the experimental conditions used overall growth retardation and head defects were observed in the majority of embryos which had been amputated and treated with retinol palmitate (RP) between stages 26-28 and 38-39. In contrast, patterning of upper jaw regenerates in larvae amputated at stage 26-28 and 38-39. In contrast, patterning of upper jaw regenerates in larvae amputated at stage 45 was not significantly affected by the treatment, although the early phase of regeneration was slower than in controls. The different responses to retinoids of regenerating facial structures in embryos, larvae and adults will be discussed.

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