In the process of left-right (L-R) axis formation in the mouse, the node plays a critical role as a structure where the initial breaking of L-R symmetry occurs. Here, we report on the gene LPlunc1, a member of BPI/PLUNC gene superfamily, which is asymmetrically expressed in the developing mouse node. LPlunc1 protein is secreted as a processed form of relative molecular mass 54K-60K and shares sequence features with the other members of BPI/PLUNC superfamily, including the N-terminal and C-terminal homology domains, each of which is considered to form a lipid binding pocket. LPlunc1 is transiently expressed in the crown cells of the node asymmetrically. This expression pattern of Lplunc1 highly overlaps with that of Nodal, a major player during the L-R formation. Interestingly, this asymmetric expression pattern is randomized in the iv mutant and reversed in the inv mutant, indicating that LPlunc1 is downstream of iv and inv. Our results suggest a link between lipid binding/transfer and the axis development.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.