We have disrupted the CRABPII gene using homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells, and shown that this disruption results in a null mutation. CRABPII null mutant mice are essentially indistinguishable from wild-type mice as judged by their normal development, fertility, life span and general behaviour, with the exception of a minor limb malformation. Moreover, CRABPI−/−/CRABPII−/− double mutant mice also appear to be essentially normal, and both CRABPII−/− single mutant and CRABPI−/−/CRABPII−/− double mutant embryos are not more sensitive than wild-type embryos to retinoic acid excess treatment in utero. Thus, CRABPI and CRABPII are dispensable both during mouse development and adult life. Our present results demonstrate that CRABPs are not critically involved in the retinoic acid signaling pathway, and that none of the functions previously proposed for CRABPs are important enough to account for their evolutionary conservation.

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