For centuries, scientists and physicians have been captivated by the consistent left-right (LR) asymmetry of the heart, viscera, and brain. A recent study implicated tubulin proteins in establishing laterality in several experimental models, including asymmetric chemosensory receptor expression in C. elegans neurons, polarization of HL-60 human neutrophil-like cells in culture, and asymmetric organ placement in Xenopus. The same mutations that randomized asymmetry in these diverse systems also affect chirality in Arabidopsis, revealing a remarkable conservation of symmetry-breaking mechanisms among kingdoms. In Xenopus, tubulin mutants only affected LR patterning very early, suggesting that this axis is established shortly after fertilization. This addendum summarizes and extends the knowledge of the cytoskeleton's role in the patterning of the LR axis. Results from many species suggest a conserved role for the cytoskeleton as the initiator of asymmetry, and indicate that symmetry is first broken during early embryogenesis by an intracellular process.
Keywords: asymmetry; ciliopathy; heterotaxia; laterality; microtubule; serotonin; tubulin.