Establishment of vertebrate left-right asymmetry

Nat Rev Genet. 2002 Feb;3(2):103-13. doi: 10.1038/nrg732.


The generation of morphological, such as left-right, asymmetry during development is an integral part of the establishment of a body plan. Until recently, the molecular basis of left-right asymmetry was a mystery, but studies indicate that Nodal and the Lefty proteins, transforming growth factor-beta-related molecules, have a central role in generating asymmetric signals. Although the initial mechanism of symmetry breaking remains unknown, developmental biologists are beginning to analyse the pathway that leads to left-right asymmetry establishment and maintenance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics*
  • Body Patterning / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Left-Right Determination Factors
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Nodal Protein
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Vertebrates / embryology
  • Vertebrates / genetics


  • Left-Right Determination Factors
  • Nodal Protein
  • Nodal protein, mouse
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta