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Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 2012 Mar-Apr;1(2):253-66. doi: 10.1002/wdev.25. Epub 2011 Dec 27.

Anterior-posterior patterning in early development: three strategies.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


The anterior-posterior (AP) axis is the most ancient of the embryonic axes and exists in most metazoans. Different animals use a wide variety of mechanisms to create this axis in the early embryo. In this study, we focus on three animals, including two insects (Drosophila and Tribolium) and a vertebrate (zebrafish) to examine different strategies used to form the AP axis. While Drosophila forms the entire axis within a syncytial blastoderm using transcription factors as morphogens, zebrafish uses signaling factors in a cellularized embryo, progressively forming the AP axis over the course of a day. Tribolium uses an intermediate strategy that has commonalities with both Drosophila and zebrafish. We discuss the specific molecular mechanisms used to create the AP axis and identify conserved features.

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