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Retinoic acid (RA) is the active metabolite of vitamin A and essential for many physiological processes, particularly the induction of cell differentiation. In addition to regulating genomic transcriptional activity via RA receptors (RARs) and retinoid X receptors (RXRs), non-genomic mechanisms of RA have been described, including the regulation of ERK1/2 kinase phosphorylation, but are poorly characterised. In this study, we test the hypothesis that genomic and non-genomic mechanisms of RA are regulated independently with respect to the involvement of ligand-dependent RA receptors. A panel of 28 retinoids (compounds with vitamin A-like activity) showed a marked disparity in genomic (gene expression) versus non-genomic (ERK1/2 phosphorylation) assays. These results demonstrate that the capacity of a compound to activate gene transcription does not necessarily correlate with its ability to regulate a non-genomic activity such as ERK 1/2 phosphorylation. Furthermore, a neurite outgrowth assay indicated that retinoids that could only induce either genomic, or non-genomic activities, were not strong promoters of neurite outgrowth, and that activities with respect to both transcriptional regulation and ERK1/2 phosphorylation produced maximum neurite outgrowth. These results suggest that the development of effective retinoids for clinical use will depend on the selection of compounds which have maximal activity in non-genomic as well as genomic assays.
Khatib, T., Marini, P., Nunna, S., Chisholm, D. R., Whiting, A., Redfern, C., … McCaffery, P. (2019). Genomic and non-genomic pathways are both crucial for peak induction of neurite outgrowth by retinoids. Cell Communication and Signaling, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12964-019-0352-4