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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2007 Aug;17(4):351-8. Epub 2007 Jul 23.

Strategies to establish left/right asymmetry in vertebrates and invertebrates.

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ISBDC, University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, CNRS, Parc Valrose, 06108 NICE Cedex 2, France.


Left/right (L/R) asymmetry is essential during embryonic development for organ positioning, looping and handed morphogenesis. A major goal in the field is to understand how embryos initially determine their left and right hand sides, a process known as symmetry breaking. A number of recent studies on several vertebrate and invertebrate model organisms have provided a more complex view on how L/R asymmetry is established, revealing an apparent partition between deuterostomes and protostomes. In deuterostomes, nodal cilia represent a conserved symmetry-breaking process; nevertheless, growing evidence shows the existence of pre-cilia L/R asymmetries involving active ion flows. In protostomes like snails and Drosophila, symmetry breaking relies on different mechanisms, involving, in particular, the actin cytoskeleton and associated molecular motors.

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