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Development. 2011 Jan;138(1):45-54. doi: 10.1242/dev.052985. Epub 2010 Nov 23.

The Rho kinase Rock2b establishes anteroposterior asymmetry of the ciliated Kupffer's vesicle in zebrafish.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.


The vertebrate body plan features a consistent left-right (LR) asymmetry of internal organs. In several vertebrate embryos, motile cilia generate an asymmetric fluid flow that is necessary for normal LR development. However, the mechanisms involved in orienting LR asymmetric flow with previously established anteroposterior (AP) and dorsoventral (DV) axes remain poorly understood. In zebrafish, asymmetric flow is generated in Kupffer's vesicle (KV). The cellular architecture of KV is asymmetric along the AP axis, with more ciliated cells densely packed into the anterior region. Here, we identify a Rho kinase gene, rock2b, which is required for normal AP patterning of KV and subsequent LR development in the embryo. Antisense depletion of rock2b in the whole embryo or specifically in the KV cell lineage perturbed asymmetric gene expression in lateral plate mesoderm and disrupted organ LR asymmetries. Analyses of KV architecture demonstrated that rock2b knockdown altered the AP placement of ciliated cells without affecting cilia number or length. In control embryos, leftward flow across the anterior pole of KV was stronger than rightward flow at the posterior end, correlating with the normal AP asymmetric distribution of ciliated cells. By contrast, rock2b knockdown embryos with AP patterning defects in KV exhibited randomized flow direction and equal flow velocities in the anterior and posterior regions. Live imaging of Tg(dusp6:memGFP)(pt19) transgenic embryos that express GFP in KV cells revealed that rock2b regulates KV cell morphology. Our results suggest a link between AP patterning of the ciliated Kupffer's vesicle and LR patterning of the zebrafish embryo.

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