The rate of malformed fish larvae varies depending on the nature and level of some dietary nutrients, in particular peptides and phospholipids. Some authors have shown the influence of retinoic acid on the skeletal formation process by acting on the expression of some developmental genes.
In this sense, among the possible developmental genes, the present project is focused on two families:
1) the Hox gene family, which controls the growth of cartilage precursor cells (some of these genes are modulated by retinoic acid in marine fish larvae during the first after hatching) and
2) the hh gene family, coding for signal molecules and for growth factors, controlling different steps of the morphogenesis and cell regeneration (these genes code in particular for proteins involved in the cell-cell interactions, and play an important role in the skeletal formation).
Consequently, the possible involvement of Hox and hh genes in malformation processes induced by nutrition is worth to be investigated.