An asymmetrically distributed protein in the embryonic mouse retina was identified as an aldehyde dehydrogenase through protein microsequencing. It was characterized as a cytosolic isoform with basic isoelectric point and preference for aliphatic substrates, features that resemble those of the isoform AHD-2 which is known to oxidize retinaldehyde to retinoic acid. Immunohistochemistry with aldehyde dehydrogenase antisera showed strong labeling of the dorsal retina from the early eye vesicle stage into adulthood. In addition, optic axons originating from the dorsal retina were transiently labeled during their outgrowth phase. Whereas in the embryo the enzyme was expressed in undifferentiated cells and in neurons, in the retina of the adult mouse the asymmetrically distributed isoform was mainly expressed in Muller glia, with the number of labeled glial cells varying with retinal position.

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