The left-right coordinator: the role of Vg1 in organizing left-right axis formation

Cell. 1998 Apr 3;93(1):37-46. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81144-7.


The asymmetries of internal organs are consistently oriented along the left-right axis in all vertebrates, and perturbations of left-right orientation lead to significant congenital disease. We propose a model in which a "left-right coordinator" interacts with the Spemann organizer to coordinate the evolutionarily conserved three-dimensional asymmetries in the embryo. The Vg1 cell-signaling pathway plays a central role in left-right coordinator function. Antagonists of Vg1 alter left-right development; antagonists of other members of the TGFbeta family do not. Cell-lineage directed expression of Vg1 protein can fully invert the left-right axis (situs inversus), can randomize left-right asymmetries, or can "rescue" a perturbed left-right axis in conjoined twins to normal orientation (situs solitus), indicating that Vg1 can mimic left-right coordinator activity. These are the first molecular manipulations in any vertebrate by which the left-right axis can be reliably controlled.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activins
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology*
  • Embryonic Induction*
  • Follistatin
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Glycoproteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glycoproteins / biosynthesis*
  • Heart / embryology*
  • Inhibins / biosynthesis
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Proteins*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / biosynthesis
  • Xenopus / embryology
  • Xenopus Proteins


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Follistatin
  • GDF1 protein, Xenopus
  • Glycoproteins
  • Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • Activins
  • noggin protein
  • Inhibins