In molecular biology, retinoic acid is a molecule known for its key role in the signaling pathways of embryonic development in vertebrates. However, there are still many unknowns about its origin in the evolutionary scale of the metazoans. An international team now describes for the first time the ancestral function of retinoic acid in the lineage of animals with bilateral symmetry, according to an article published in the journal Science Advances in which Professor Ricard Albalat, from the Faculty of Biology and the Institute, participates. of Biodiversity Research ( IRBio ) of the University of Barcelona. Retinoic acid (AR) is a key molecule in the physiology and embryonic development of the phylum of chordates. Derived from vitamin A (retinol), it is a necessary factor to regulate gene expression in different processes – proliferation and cell differentiation during embryonic development –

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in the formation of body symmetry patterns. In search of an ancestral genetic machinery The new research reveals that retinoic acid’s primary function was to control cell differentiation Papua New Guinea Email List and facilitate the formation of neurons at the right time and place. As Professor Ricard Albalat explains, “We have been studying the evolution of retinoic acid as a signaling molecule in animal development for more than fifteen years; By analyzing genomic data, we were the first to describe the existence of the genetic machinery for this signaling outside of the chordate edge. ‘ According to this, the set of enzymes responsible for controlling the levels of retinoic acid and the nuclear receptors that respond to the signal and regulate gene transcription – that is, the machinery of the pathway – was an ancestral structure. “However, our studies did not resolve whether the signaling function was the same,

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whether it had changed during evolution, or whether it regulated similar or different biological processes in the various species,” explains Albalat, who is a professor in the Department of Genetics, Microbiology. and Statistics of the UB. The work of a multidisciplinary scientific team reached the challenge of functionally characterizing the signaling of the retinoic acid pathway in a protostomy organism (belonging to one of the great lineages of animals with bilateral symmetry). «The most common protostomy models, such as Drosophila or Caenorhabditis , were not an option, as they had lost this biochemical pathway. Therefore, it was necessary to find a kind of protostomy that would have preserved the retinoic acid machinery and in which it was possible to carry out functional studies ”, Albalat specifies. A living fossil to study the retinoic acid pathway The marine worm

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