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Curr Top Dev Biol. 2009;89:163-92. doi: 10.1016/S0070-2153(09)89007-8.

Convergence and extension movements during vertebrate gastrulation.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Program in Developmental Biology, Genetics, and Human Genetics, University of California at San Francisco, California, USA.


During vertebrate gastrulation, coordinated cell movements shape the basic body plan. Key components of gastrulation are convergence and extension (C&E) movements, which narrow and lengthen the embryonic tissues, respectively. The rates of C&E movements differ significantly according to the position and the stage of gastrulation. Here, we review the distinct cellular behaviors that define the spatial and temporal patterns of C&E movements, with the special emphasis on zebrafish. We also summarize the molecular regulation of these cellular behaviors and the interplay between different signaling pathways that drive C&E. Finally, to ensure efficient C&E movements, cells must achieve mediolaterally-elongated cell morphology and polarize motile protrusions. We discuss the recent discoveries on the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which the mediolateral cell polarity is established.

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