Journal of Developmental Biology
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Retinoic acid (RA) is an important signaling molecule in the development of the endoderm and an important molecule in protocols used to generate endodermal cell types from stem cells. In this review, we describe the RA signaling pathway and its role in the patterning and specification of the extra embryonic endoderm and different endodermal organs. The formation of endoderm is an ancient evolutionary feature and RA signaling appears to have coevolved with the vertebrate lineage. Towards that end, we describe how RA participates in many regulatory networks required for the formation of extraembryonic structures as well as the organs of the embryo proper.