Consistent left-right patterning is a fascinating and biomedically important problem. In the chick embryo, it is not known how cells determine their position (left or right) relative to the primitive streak, which is required for subsequent asymmetric gene expression cascades. We show that the subcellular localization of Vangl2, a core planar cell polarity (PCP) protein, is consistently polarized, giving cells in the blastoderm a vector pointing toward the primitive streak. Moreover, morpholino-mediated loss-of-function of Vangl2 by electroporation into chicks at very early stages randomizes the normally left-sided expression of Sonic hedgehog. Strikingly, Vangl2 morpholinos also induce a desynchronization of asymmetric gene expression within the left and right domains of Hensen's node. These data reveal the existence of polarized planar cell polarity protein localization in gastrulating chick and demonstrate that the PCP pathway is functionally required for normal asymmetry in the chick upstream of Sonic hedgehog. These data suggest a new and widely applicable class of models for the spread and coordination of left-right patterning information in the embryonic blastoderm.
(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.