Talk:Developmental Signals - Nodal

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2021, July 25) Embryology Developmental Signals - Nodal. Retrieved from


Leftward Flow Determines Laterality in Conjoined Twins

Curr Biol. 2017 Feb 20;27(4):543-548. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.049. Epub 2017 Feb 9.

Tisler M1, Thumberger T1, Schneider I1, Schweickert A1, Blum M2.


Conjoined twins fused at the thorax display an enigmatic left-right defect: although left twins are normal, laterality is disturbed in one-half of right twins [1-3]. Molecularly, this randomization corresponds to a lack of asymmetric Nodal cascade induction in right twins [4]. We studied leftward flow [5, 6] at the left-right organizer (LRO) [7, 8] in thoracopagus twins in Xenopus, which displayed a duplicated, fused, and ciliated LRO. Cilia were motile and produced a leftward flow from the right LRO margin of the right to the left margin of the left twin. Motility was required for correct laterality in left twins, as knockdown of dynein motor dnah9 prevented Nodal cascade induction. Nodal was rescued by parallel knockdown of the inhibitor dand5 [9, 10] on the left side of the left twin. Lack of Nodal induction in the right twin, despite the presence of flow, was due to insufficient suppression of dand5. Knockdown of dand5 at the center of the fused LRO resulted in asymmetric Nodal cascade induction in the right twin as well. Manipulation of leftward flow and dand5 in a targeted and sided manner induced the Nodal cascade in a predictable manner, in the left twin, the right one, both, or neither. Laterality in conjoined twins thus was determined by cilia-driven leftward fluid flow like in single embryos, which solves a century-old riddle, as the phenomenon was already studied by some of the founders of experimental embryology, including Dareste [11], Fol and Warynsky [12], and Spemann and Falkenberg [13] (reviewed in [14]). Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. KEYWORDS: Xenopus; cilia; conjoined twin; dand5; laterality; left-right asymmetry; left-right organizer; leftward flow; nodal flow; pitx2 PMID 28190730

Cerberus-Nodal-Lefty-Pitx signaling cascade controls left-right asymmetry in amphioxus

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Apr 4;114(14):3684-3689. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1620519114. Epub 2017 Mar 20.

Li G1, Liu X1, Xing C1, Zhang H1, Shimeld SM2, Wang Y3.


Many bilaterally symmetrical animals develop genetically programmed left-right asymmetries. In vertebrates, this process is under the control of Nodal signaling, which is restricted to the left side by Nodal antagonists Cerberus and Lefty. Amphioxus, the earliest diverging chordate lineage, has profound left-right asymmetry as a larva. We show that Cerberus, Nodal, Lefty, and their target transcription factor Pitx are sequentially activated in amphioxus embryos. We then address their function by transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALEN)-based knockout and heat-shock promoter (HSP)-driven overexpression. Knockout of Cerberus leads to ectopic right-sided expression of Nodal, Lefty, and Pitx, whereas overexpression of Cerberus represses their left-sided expression. Overexpression of Nodal in turn represses Cerberus and activates Lefty and Pitx ectopically on the right side. We also show Lefty represses Nodal, whereas Pitx activates Nodal These data combine in a model in which Cerberus determines whether the left-sided gene expression cassette is activated or repressed. These regulatory steps are essential for normal left-right asymmetry to develop, as when they are disrupted embryos may instead form two phenotypic left sides or two phenotypic right sides. Our study shows the regulatory cassette controlling left-right asymmetry was in place in the ancestor of amphioxus and vertebrates. This includes the Nodal inhibitors Cerberus and Lefty, both of which operate in feedback loops with Nodal and combine to establish asymmetric Pitx expression. Cerberus and Lefty are missing from most invertebrate lineages, marking this mechanism as an innovation in the lineage leading to modern chordates. KEYWORDS: Nodal; TALEN; amphioxus; embryonic development; left–right asymmetry PMID 28320954

Mechanism for generation of left isomerism in Ccdc40 mutant embryos

PLoS One. 2017 Feb 9;12(2):e0171180. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171180. eCollection 2017.

Sugrue KF1,2, Zohn IE2.


Leftward fluid flow in the mouse node is generated by cilia and is critical for initiating asymmetry of the left-right axis. Coiled-coil domain containing-40 (Ccdc40) plays an evolutionarily conserved role in the assembly of motile cilia and establishment of the left-right axis. Approximately one-third of Ccdc40lnks mutant embryos display situs defects and here we investigate the underlying mechanism. Ccdc40lnks mutants show delayed induction of markers of the left-lateral plate mesoderm (L-LPM) including Lefty1, Lefty2 and Nodal. Consistent with defective cilia motility compromising fluid flow across the node, initiation of asymmetric perinodal Cerberus like-2 (Cerl2) expression is delayed and then randomized. This is followed by delayed and then randomized asymmetric Nodal expression around the node. We propose a model to explain how left isomerism arises in a proportion of Ccdc40lnks mutants. We postulate that with defective motile cilia, Cerl2 expression remains symmetric and Nodal is antagonized equally on both sides of the node. This effectively reduces Nodal activation bilaterally, leading to reduced and delayed activation of Nodal and its antagonists in the LPM. This model is further supported by the failure to establish Nodal expression in the left-LPM with reduced Nodal gene dosage in Ccdc40lnks/lnks;NodalLacZ/+ mutants causing a predominance of right not left isomerism. Together these results suggest a model where cilia generated fluid flow in the node functions to ensure robust Nodal activation and a timely left-sided developmental program in the LPM.

PMID 28182636 PMCID: PMC5300185 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171180


Left-right asymmetry in the level of active Nodal protein produced in the node is translated into left-right asymmetry in the lateral plate of mouse embryos

Dev Biol. 2011 May 15;353(2):321-30. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.03.009. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Kawasumi A1, Nakamura T, Iwai N, Yashiro K, Saijoh Y, Belo JA, Shiratori H, Hamada H.


Left-right (L-R) asymmetry in the mouse embryo is generated in the node and is dependent on cilia-driven fluid flow, but how the initial asymmetry is transmitted from the node to the lateral plate has remained unknown. We have now identified a transcriptional enhancer (ANE) in the human LEFTY1 gene that exhibits marked L>R asymmetric activity in perinodal cells of the mouse embryo. Dissection of ANE revealed that it is activated in the perinodal cells on the left side by Nodal signaling, suggesting that Nodal activity in the node is asymmetric at a time when Nodal expression is symmetric. Phosphorylated Smad2/3 (pSmad2) indeed manifested an L-R asymmetric distribution at the node, being detected in perinodal cells preferentially on the left side. This asymmetry in pSmad2 distribution was found to be generated not by unidirectional transport of Nodal but rather as a result of L<R asymmetric expression of the Nodal antagonist Cerl2. For various mutant embryos examined, the asymmetry in pSmad2 distribution among the perinodal cells closely matched that in lateral plate mesoderm (LPM). However, autocrine-paracrine Nodal signaling in perinodal cells is dispensable for L-R patterning of LPM, given that its inhibition by expression of dominant negative forms of Smad3 or ALK4 was still associated with normal (left-sided) Nodal expression in LPM. Our results suggest that LPM is the direct target of Nodal secreted by the perinodal cells, and that an L>R distribution of active Nodal in the node is translated into the asymmetry in LPM. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID 21419113 PMCID: PMC4134472 DOI: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.03.009