Enhanced Loss of Retinoic Acid Network Genes in Xenopus laevis Achieves a Tighter Signal Regulation

Tali Abbou, Liat Bendelac-Kapon, Audeliah Sebag, Abraham Fainsod*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Retinoic acid (RA) is a major regulatory signal during embryogenesis produced from vitamin A (retinol) by an extensive, autoregulating metabolic and signaling network to prevent fluc-tuations that result in developmental malformations. Xenopus laevis is an allotetraploid hybrid frog species whose genome includes L (long) and S (short) chromosomes from the originating species. Evolutionarily, the X. laevis subgenomes have been losing either L or S homoeologs in about 43% of genes to generate singletons. In the RA network, out of the 47 genes, about 47% have lost one of the homoeologs, like the genome average. Interestingly, RA metabolism genes from storage (retinyl es-ters) to retinaldehyde production exhibit enhanced gene loss with 75% singletons out of 28 genes. The effect of this gene loss on RA signaling autoregulation was studied. Employing transient RA manipulations, homoeolog gene pairs were identified in which one homoeolog exhibits enhanced responses or looser regulation than the other, while in other pairs both homoeologs exhibit similar RA responses. CRISPR/Cas9 targeting of individual homoeologs to reduce their activity supports the hypothesis where the RA metabolic network gene loss results in tighter network regulation and more efficient RA robustness responses to overcome complex regulation conditions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number327
Issue number3
StatePublished - 19 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Li-censee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Gene duplication
  • Gene regulation
  • Genome evolution
  • Homoeolog
  • Retinoic acid
  • Signaling robustness
  • Xenopus


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