Cilia are at the heart of vertebrate left-right asymmetry

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2003 Aug;13(4):385-92. doi: 10.1016/s0959-437x(03)00091-1.


Handed asymmetry of the shape and position of the internal organs is found in all vertebrates, and is essential for normal cardiac development. Recent genetic and embryological experiments in mouse embryos have demonstrated that left-right asymmetry is established by directional flow of extraembryonic fluid surrounding the node, which is driven by motile monocilia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Cilia / ultrastructure
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Heart / embryology
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Kartagener Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Models, Biological
  • Nodal Protein
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Vertebrates / embryology*


  • Nodal Protein
  • Nodal protein, mouse
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta