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Science 288 (5468): 1047-1051

Copyright © 2000 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

N-Cadherin, a Cell Adhesion Molecule Involved in Establishment of Embryonic Left-Right Asymmetry

Martín I. García-Castro, *dagger Eva Vielmetter, * Marianne Bronner-Fraser

Within the bilaterally symmetric vertebrate body plan, many organs develop asymmetrically. Here, it is demonstrated that a cell adhesion molecule, N-cadherin, is one of the earliest proteins to be asymmetrically expressed in the chicken embryo and that its activity is required during gastrulation for proper establishment of the left-right axis. Blocking N-cadherin function randomizes heart looping and alters the expression of Snail and Pitx2, later components of the molecular cascade that regulate left-right asymmetry. However, the expression of other components of this cascade (Nodal and Lefty) was unchanged after blocking N-cadherin function, suggesting the existence of parallel pathways in the establishment of left-right morphogenesis. Here, the results suggest that N-cadherin-mediated cell adhesion events are required for establishment of left-right asymmetry.

Division of Biology 139-74, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
*   These authors contributed equally to this work.

dagger    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: mig1000{at}

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