TGFβ signaling in establishing left-right asymmetry

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2014 Aug;32:80-4. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2014.03.029. Epub 2014 Apr 2.


Two TGFβ-related proteins, Nodal and Lefty, are asymmetrically expressed and play central roles in establishing left-right (L-R) asymmetry of our body. Nodal acts as a left-side determinant whereas Lefty restricts Nodal activity to the left side by acting as a feedback inhibitor of Nodal. While the mechanism for symmetry breaking is variable among animals, the pair of Nodal and Lefty has a conserved role in the L-R asymmetry pathway. Function and regulation of Nodal and Lefty have been revealed in the last decades, but in this review we summarize the role of TGFβ-related proteins together with more recent findings. We mainly discuss observations made with mouse embryos, unless indicated otherwise.

Keywords: Lefty; Left–right asymmetry; Nodal; Node.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / embryology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Left-Right Determination Factors / genetics*
  • Left-Right Determination Factors / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • Nodal Protein / genetics*
  • Nodal Protein / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


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