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Dev Dyn. 2009 Apr;238(4):789-96. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.21893.

Polarity and cell fate specification in the control of Caenorhabditis elegans gastrulation.

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  • 1Developmental Genetics Program, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine and Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, New York, New York 10016, USA.


Gastrulation is a time during development when cells destined to produce internal tissues and organs move from the surface of the embryo into the interior. It is critical that the cell movements of gastrulation be precisely controlled, and coordinated with cell specification, in order for the embryo to develop normally. Caenorhabditis elegans gastrulation is relatively simple, can be observed easily in the transparent embryo, and can be manipulated genetically to uncover important regulatory mechanisms. Many of these cellular and molecular mechanisms, including cell shape, cytoskeletal, and cell cycle changes, appear to be conserved from flies to vertebrates. Here we review gastrulation in C. elegans, with an emphasis on recent data linking contact-induced cell polarity, PAR proteins, and cell fate specification to gastrulation control.

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