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Symmetry 2010, 2(2), 1033-1054;

Symmetry OUT, Asymmetry IN

Instituto de Medicina Molecular e Instituto de Histologia e Biologia do Desenvolvimento, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 March 2010 / Revised: 23 April 2010 / Accepted: 18 May 2010 / Published: 25 May 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers: Symmetry Concepts and Applications)
Download PDF [2461 KB, uploaded 25 May 2010]


The formation of a perfect vertebrate body plan poses many questions that thrill developmental biologists. Special attention has been given to the symmetric segmental patterning that allows the formation of the vertebrae and skeletal muscles. These segmented structures derive from bilaterally symmetric units called somites, which are formed under the control of a segmentation clock. At the same time that these symmetric units are being formed, asymmetric signals are establishing laterality in nearby embryonic tissues, allowing the asymmetric placement of the internal organs. More recently, a “shield” that protects symmetric segmentation from the influence of laterality cues was uncovered. Here we review the mechanisms that control symmetric versus asymmetric development along the left-right axis among vertebrates. We also discuss the impact that these studies might have in the understanding of human congenital disorders characterized by congenital vertebral malformations and abnormal laterality phenotypes.
Keywords: segmentation clock; bilateral synchronization; left-right asymmetry; organ laterality segmentation clock; bilateral synchronization; left-right asymmetry; organ laterality
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Lourenço, R.; Saúde, L. Symmetry OUT, Asymmetry IN. Symmetry 2010, 2, 1033-1054.

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