Development of a straight vertebrate body axis

Development. 2020 Oct 6;147(21):dev175794. doi: 10.1242/dev.175794.


The vertebrate body plan is characterized by the presence of a segmented spine along its main axis. Here, we examine the current understanding of how the axial tissues that are formed during embryonic development give rise to the adult spine and summarize recent advances in the field, largely focused on recent studies in zebrafish, with comparisons to amniotes where appropriate. We discuss recent work illuminating the genetics and biological mechanisms mediating extension and straightening of the body axis during development, and highlight open questions. We specifically focus on the processes of notochord development and cerebrospinal fluid physiology, and how defects in those processes may lead to scoliosis.

Keywords: Axis straightening; Notochord; Reissner fiber; Scoliosis; Spine; Vacuoles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning*
  • Morphogenesis
  • Notochord / embryology
  • Scoliosis / embryology
  • Scoliosis / pathology
  • Spine / abnormalities
  • Spine / embryology
  • Spine / pathology
  • Vertebrates / embryology*