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Left–right development

Conserved function for embryonic nodal cilia

A similar mechanism may underlie the handedness seen in all vertebrate body plans.


How left–right handedness originates in the body plan of the developing vertebrate embryo is a subject of considerable debate1,2. In mice, a left–right bias is thought to arise from a directional extracellular flow (nodal flow) that is generated by dynein-dependent rotation of monocilia on the ventral surface of the embryonic node3,4. Here we show that the existence of node monocilia and the expression of a dynein gene that is implicated in ciliary function are conserved across a wide range of vertebrate classes, indicating that a similar ciliary mechanism may underlie the establishment of handedness in all vertebrates.

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Figure 1: Regions of potential left–right signalling in mouse, chick, Xenopus and zebrafish.


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Correspondence to H. Joseph Yost.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Essner, J., Vogan, K., Wagner, M. et al. Conserved function for embryonic nodal cilia. Nature 418, 37–38 (2002).

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