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Review article

Retinoids in Mammals: A Crystallographic Perspective

Giuseppe Zanotti ; Department of Organic Chemistry, University of Padova and Biopolymer Research Center, C.N.R., Via Marzolo 1, 35131 Padova, Italy
Rodolfo Berni ; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze 231 A, 43100 Parma, Italy

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Retinoids are involved in several essential processes in mammals, including vision, morphogenesis, spermatogenesis and maintenance of epithelial tissue. Since they are labile compounds, nearly insoluble in water, they are present in body fluids and within the cell bound to specific retinoid-binding proteins. In plasma, a single protein, called retinol-binding protein, delivers the alcoholic form of vitamin A from its store sites to target cells. In the cytoplasm, four different cellular retinol-binding proteins and two retinoic acid-binding proteins have been discovered and structurally characterized to date. Finally, two classes of nuclear receptors for retinoic acid isomers have been characterized. The structure/function relationship for several retinoid-binding proteins is discussed here.


vitamin A, retinol, retinoids, retinoic acid, retinol-binding proteins, retinoid receptors, crystal structure

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