Insights into the evolution of a signalling molecule
EMBL scientists discover how a molecule’s role changes from simple metabolite to instructive signal
Among developmental biologists, the signalling molecule retinoic acid is well known for its role in building the vertebrate body. Not much is known, however, about how such signals emerge in evolution. To investigate this, the Arendt lab at EMBL in Heidelberg have studied the role of retinoic acid signalling in a marine worm. In the study published in Science Advances, the team and their collaborators show that in the worm, retinoic acid acts like a metabolic timer that helps neurons to form at the right time and place during development.