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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2009 Jun;20(4):456-63. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2008.11.010. Epub 2008 Nov 25.

Perspectives and open problems in the early phases of left-right patterning.

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Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, Biology Department, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA.


Embryonic left-right (LR) patterning is a fascinating aspect of embryogenesis. The field currently faces important questions about the origin of LR asymmetry, the mechanisms by which consistent asymmetry is imposed on the scale of the whole embryo, and the degree of conservation of early phases of LR patterning among model systems. Recent progress on planar cell polarity and cellular asymmetry in a variety of tissues and species provides a new perspective on the early phases of LR patterning. Despite the huge diversity in body-plans over which consistent LR asymmetry is imposed, and the apparent divergence in molecular pathways that underlie laterality, the data reveal conservation of physiological modules among phyla and a basic scheme of cellular chirality amplified by a planar cell polarity-like pathway over large cell fields.

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