Retinoic Acid - What is Retinoic Acid?

Retinoic Acid is a nutrient that that body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. All-trans retinoic acid is made in the body from vitamin A and helps cells to grow and develop, especially in the embryo.

A form of all-trans retinoic acid made in the laboratory is put on the skin to treat conditions such as acne and is taken by mouth to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia (a fast-growing cancer in which there are too many immature blood-forming cells in the blood and bone marrow).

All-trans retinoic acid is being studied in the prevention and treatment of other types of cancer. Also called ATRA, retinoic acid, tretinoin, and vitamin A acid.

Retinoic acid is the oxidized form of Vitamin A, with only partial vitamin A function. It functions in determining position along embryonic anterior/posterior axis in chordates.

It acts through Hox genes, which ultimately control anterior/posterior patterning in early developmental stages.

Retinoic acid acts by binding to heterodimers of the retinoic acid receptor (RAR) and the retinoid X receptor (RXR), which then bind to retinoic acid response elements (RAREs) in the regulatory regions of direct targets (including Hox genes), thereby activating gene transcription.

Retinoic acid receptors mediate transcription of different sets of genes of cell differentiation, thus it also depends on the target cells.

One of the target genes is the gene of the retinoic acid receptor itself, which occurs during positive regulation. Control of retinoic acid levels is maintained by a suite of proteins.

Further Reading


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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

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