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Dev Growth Differ. 2007 Jun;49(5):395-405.

Right-elevated expression of charon is regulated by fluid flow in medaka Kupffer's vesicle.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Tokyo, Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


Recent studies have revealed that a cilium-generated liquid flow in the node has a crucial role in the establishment of the left-right (LR) axis in the mouse. In fish, Kupffer's vesicle (KV), a teleost-specific spherical organ attached to the tail region, is known to have an equivalent role to the mouse node during LR axis formation. However, at present, there has been no report of an asymmetric gene expressed in KV under the control of fluid flow. Here we report the earliest asymmetric gene in teleost KV, medaka charon, and its regulation. Charon is a member of the Cerberus/DAN family of proteins, first identified in zebrafish. Although zebrafish charon was reported to be symmetrically expressed in KV, medaka charon displays asymmetric expression with more intense expression on the right side. This asymmetric expression was found to be regulated by KV flow because symmetric and up-regulated charon expression was observed in flow-defective embryos with immotile cilia or disrupted KV. Taken together, medaka charon is a reliable gene marker for LR asymmetry in KV and thus, will be useful for the analysis of the early steps downstream of the fluid flow.

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