Retinoic acid homeostasis regulates meiotic entry in developing anuran gonads and in Bidder's organ through Raldh2 and Cyp26b1 proteins

Rafal P. Piprek, Anna Pecio, Katarzyna Laskowska-Kaszub, Malgorzata Kloc, Jacek Z. Kubiak, Jacek M. Szymura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The vitamin A (retinol) and its metabolites such as retinoic acid (RA) affect vertebrate gametogenesis. The level of RA in cells relies on the balance between its synthesis and degradation. The sex-dependent equilibrium is reached in different ways in various species. It is known that RA induces meiosis in developing gonads in mouse, chicken and urodel amphibians, but its role in anuran amphibians has not been studied. Here we show in six anuran species (Xenopus laevis, Bombina bombina, Hyla arborea, Bufo viridis, Rana arvalis and Rana temporaria) that cultured undifferentiated gonads were insensitive to RA treatment, but the RA induced ectopic meiosis in cultured larval testes. In larval testes of all studied species, the exogenous RA induced leptotene phase of I meiotic prophase in gonia, but only in H. arborea and B. viridis gonia progressed to zygotene phase. In the cultured developing ovaries, exogenous RA led to increase in the number of oocytes as compared to the control. Inhibition of either RA synthesis or RA-receptors prevented meiotic entry in larval gonads of all species. Exogenous RA rescued this inhibitory effect demonstrating that the balance in RA homeostasis plays a key role in meiotic entry in anuran gonads. The localization of two enzymes, Raldh2 and Cyp26b1, which antagonistically control RA levels and whose abundance suggests the sites of RA synthesis and degradation respectively, showed two distinct expression patterns specific for (i) X. laevis, H. arborea, R. arvalis, R. temporaria and (ii) B. bombina, B. viridis. Thus, RA, in correlation with specific expression patterns of Raldh2 and Cyp26b, induces meiosis during gonad development in anurans. In addition, in B. viridis, RA signalling seems important for development of the Bidder's organ containing oocytes both in males and females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-627
Number of pages15
JournalMechanisms of Development
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Amphibians
  • Gonads
  • Meiosis
  • Oocytes
  • Retinoic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Embryology


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