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December 2012

In most echinoderms, the transition from larva to adult relies on an impressive left-right asymmetric process. During this process, an imaginal disc called the rudiment, from which most adult tissues derive, is formed on the left side of the larva. In this issue of PLOS Genetics, Bessodes et al. show that in the sea urchin larva, a group of Nodal-expressing cells located at the tip of the gastrula archenteron plays the role of a left-right organizer. They identify BMP, FGF, and Notch as key signals that regulate the asymmetric positioning of this organizer. The image shows a dorsal view of a four-week-old Paracentrotus lividus larva.

Image Credit: Véronique Duboc and Thierry Lepage, Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer.

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