Unidirectional fluid flow plays an essential role in the breaking of left-right (L-R) symmetry in mouse embryos, but it has remained unclear how the flow is sensed by the embryo. We report that the Ca2+ channel Polycystin-2 (Pkd2) is required specifically in the perinodal crown cells for sensing the nodal flow. Examination of mutant forms of Pkd2 shows that the ciliary localization of Pkd2 is essential for correct L-R patterning. Whereas Kif3a mutant embryos, which lack all cilia, failed to respond to an artificial flow, restoration of primary cilia in crown cells rescued the response to the flow. Our results thus suggest that nodal flow is sensed in a manner dependent on Pkd2 by the cilia of crown cells located at the edge of the node.
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