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Curr Top Dev Biol. 2011;97:137-77. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-385975-4.00012-7.

Signaling pathways and axis formation in the lower metazoa.

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Department of Molecular Evolution and Genomics, Centre for Organismal Studies, Heidelberg University, Germany.


The determination of the body axis in the last common ancestor of bilaterian animals is still a matter of debate. While Hox genes pattern the formation of the primary, anteroposterior body axis in bilaterians, there is growing evidence from lower metazoans that the Wnt/β-catenin pathway acts as the primordial signaling system in this process. This review summarizes molecular data from recent genomic analyses of basal model organisms with a focus on the evolution of signaling pathways involved in the establishment of the primary and successive body axes during early metazoan evolution.

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