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Nature. 1996 Mar 7;380(6569):37-40.

A common plan for dorsoventral patterning in Bilateria.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, 90095-1737, USA.


Functional studies seem now to confirm, as first suggested by E. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1822, that there was an inversion of the dorsoventral axis during animal evolution. A conserved system of extracellular signals provides positional information for the allocation of embryonic cells to specific tissue types both in Drosophila and vertebrates; the ventral region of Drosophila is homologous to the dorsal side of the vertebrate. Developmental studies are now revealing some of the characteristics of the ancestral animal that gave rise to the arthropod and mammalian lineages, for which we propose the name Urbilateria.

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