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Curr Biol. 2002 Jun 4;12(11):938-43.

The ion channel polycystin-2 is required for left-right axis determination in mice.

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Universitätsklinikum Münster, Institut für Humangenetik, Vesaliusweg 12-14, Germany.


Generation of laterality depends on a pathway which involves the asymmetrically expressed genes nodal, Ebaf, Leftb, and Pitx2. In mouse, node monocilia are required upstream of the nodal cascade. In chick and frog, gap junctions are essential prior to node/organizer formation. It was hypothesized that differential activity of ion channels gives rise to unidirectional transfer through gap junctions, resulting in asymmetric gene expression. PKD2, which if mutated causes autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) in humans, encodes the calcium release channel polycystin-2. We have generated a knockout allele of Pkd2 in mouse. In addition to malformations described previously, homozygous mutant embryos showed right pulmonary isomerism, randomization of embryonic turning, heart looping, and abdominal situs. Leftb and nodal were not expressed in the left lateral plate mesoderm (LPM), and Ebaf was absent from floorplate. Pitx2 was bilaterally expressed in posterior LPM but absent anteriorly. Pkd2 was ubiquitously expressed at headfold and early somite stages, with higher levels in floorplate and notochord. The embryonic midline, however, was present, and normal levels of Foxa2 and shh were expressed, suggesting that polycystin-2 acts downstream or in parallel to shh and upstream of the nodal cascade.

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