Date Published: February 17, 2004
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Partial Text: Most animals (including humans) show a high level of bilateral symmetry: on the surface, the right side of our body resembles the left. A closer and deeper look, however, reveals an underlying asymmetry. The heart, for example, is on the left side in most humans, and the liver on the right. This left-right asymmetry develops early on in the embryo, and research in the past few years has revealed some of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that establish the left-right axis, which conveys positional information to cells in the growing embryo. We know that the formation of the axis relies on “crosstalk” between cells, which involves long-range signaling molecules (or ligands) and cell-surface receptors on cells that receive the signal.