Mechanism of nodal flow: A conserved symmetry breaking event in left-right axis determination

Yasushi Okada, Sen Takeda, Yosuke Tanaka, Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, Nobutaka Hirokawa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

355 Scopus citations


The leftward flow in extraembryonic fluid is critical for the initial determination of the left-right axis of mouse embryos. It is unclear if this is a conserved mechanism among other vertebrates and how the directionality of the flow arises from the motion of cilia. In this paper, we show that rabbit and medakafish embryos also exhibit a leftward fluid flow in their ventral nodes. In all cases, primary monocilia present a clockwise rotational-like motion. Observations of defective ciliary dynamics in mutant mouse embryos support the idea that the posterior tilt of the cilia during rotational-like beating can explain the leftward fluid flow. Moreover, we show that this leftward flow may produce asymmetric distribution of exogenously introduced proteins, suggesting morphogen gradients as a subsequent mechanism of left-right axis determination. Finally, we experimentally and theoretically characterize under which conditions a morphogen gradient can arise from the flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-644
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 20 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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