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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2013 Aug;23(4):445-53. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2013.04.010. Epub 2013 Jun 14.

Nodal: master and commander of the dorsal-ventral and left-right axes in the sea urchin embryo.

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LBDV, Laboratoire de Biologie du Développement de Villefranche-sur-Mer, Observatoire Océanologique, UMR 7009 CNRS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 06230 Villefranche sur Mer, France.


Recent studies suggest that specification of the dorsal-ventral and left-right axes of the sea urchin embryo relies on Nodal-expressing signalling centres located in the ventral ectoderm and in the archenteron that share striking similarities with vertebrate organising centres. Nodal and its downstream target BMP2/4 pattern all three germ layers along the dorsal-ventral axis, repress neural fates and control morphogenesis of the larva. Moreover, Nodal establishes left-right asymmetry by repressing formation of the adult rudiment and inhibiting germline cells differentiation on the right side, while BMP2/4 promotes expression of mesodermal genes on the left side. These findings provide a framework for future studies and raise new questions regarding the events upstream and downstream of Nodal and BMP signalling during axis formation.

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