Left-Right Patterning: Breaking Symmetry to Asymmetric Morphogenesis.
Vertebrates exhibit striking left-right (L-R) asymmetries in the structure and position of the internal organs. Symmetry is broken by motile cilia-generated asymmetric fluid flow, resulting in a signaling cascade - the Nodal-Pitx2 pathway - being robustly established within mesodermal tissue on the left side only. This pathway impinges upon various organ primordia to instruct their side-specific development. Recently, progress has been made in understanding both the breaking of embryonic L-R symmetry and how the Nodal-Pitx2 pathway controls lateralized cell differentiation, migration, and other aspects of cell behavior, as well as tissue-level mechanisms, that drive asymmetries in organ formation. Proper execution of asymmetric organogenesis is critical to health, making furthering our understanding of L-R development an important concern.