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Annu Rev Genet. 2011;45:357-77. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-110410-132517. Epub 2011 Sep 13.

Maternal and zygotic control of zebrafish dorsoventral axial patterning.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Vertebrate development begins with precise molecular, cellular, and morphogenetic controls to establish the basic body plan of the embryo. In zebrafish, these tightly regulated processes begin during oogenesis and proceed through gastrulation to establish and pattern the axes of the embryo. During oogenesis a maternal factor is localized to the vegetal pole of the oocyte that is a determinant of dorsal tissues. Following fertilization this vegetally localized dorsal determinant is asymmetrically translocated in the egg and initiates formation of the dorsoventral axis. Dorsoventral axis formation and patterning is then mediated by maternal and zygotic factors acting through Wnt, BMP (bone morphogenetic protein), Nodal, and FGF (fibroblast growth factor) signaling pathways, each of which is required to establish and/or pattern the dorsoventral axis. This review addresses recent advances in our understanding of the molecular factors and mechanisms that establish and pattern the dorsoventral axis of the zebrafish embryo, including establishment of the animal-vegetal axis as it relates to formation of the dorsoventral axis.

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