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Dev Biol September 1, 1997; 189 (1): 68-78.

Organizer induction determines left-right asymmetry in Xenopus.

Vertebrates appear bilaterally symmetrical but have considerable left-right (LR) asymmetry in the anatomy and placement of internal organs such as the heart. Although a number of asymmetrically expressed genes are known to affect LR patterning, both the initial source of asymmetry and the mechanism that correctly orients the LR axis remain controversial. In this study, we show that the induction of dorsal organizing centers in the embryo can orient LR asymmetry. Ectopic organizing centers were induced by microinjection of mRNA encoding a variety of body axis duplicating proteins, including members of the Wnt signal transduction pathway. The ectopic and primary body axes form side-by-side conjoined twins, with the secondary axis developing as either the left or right sibling. In all cases, correct LR asymmetry was observed in the left twin, regardless of whether it was derived from the primary axis or induced de novo by injection of Xwnt-8, beta-catenin, or Siamois mRNA. In contrast, the right twin was generally unbiased, regardless of the origin of the left body axis, as seen in many instances of experimentally induced and spontaneous conjoined twins. An unanticipated exception was that right twins induced by beta-catenin and Siamois, two downstream effectors of Wnt signaling, exhibited predominately normal heart looping, even when they formed the right twin. Taken together, these results indicate that LR asymmetry is locally oriented as a consequence of Wnt signaling through beta-catenin and Siamois. We discuss the possibility that signals upstream of beta-catenin and Siamois might be required in order for a right sibling to be randomized.

PubMed ID: 9281338
Article link: Dev Biol
Grant support: [+]
Genes referenced: ctnnb1 nodal1 sia1 sia2 tbx2 wnt8a

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