Insights into the establishment of left-right asymmetries in vertebrates

Ángel Raya, Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The body-plan of vertebrates, while exteriorly essentially symmetric along its medio-lateral plane, displays numerous left-right differences in the disposition and placement of internal organs. Such left-right asymmetries, established during embryogenesis, are controlled by complex epigenetic and genetic cascades that impart laterality information to the different embryo structures and organ primordia. A key and evolutionarily conserved feature of these information cascades among vertebrate embryos is the left-sided transfer of information from the node to the lateral plate mesoderm during early somitogenesis stages. We review here recent evidence concerning the mechanisms that regulate the laterality of such transfer. Furthermore, we propose a model of left-right axis specification that underscores the role of the node as an integrator of laterality information and the evolutionary conservation of the mechanisms that convey such information to and from the node.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-94
Number of pages14
JournalBirth Defects Research Part C - Embryo Today: Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Embryo node
  • Embryogenesis
  • Left-right organizer
  • Nodal
  • Nodal flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Embryology
  • Developmental Biology


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