Formin is Associated with Left-Right Asymmetry in the Pond Snail and the Frog

Angus Davison, Gary S. McDowell, Jennifer M. Holden, Harriet F. Johnson, Georgios D. Koutsovoulos, M. Maureen Liu, Paco Hulpiau, Frans Van Roy, Christopher M. Wade, Ruby Banerjee, Fengtang Yang, Satoshi Chiba, John W. Davey, Daniel J. Jackson, Michael Levin, Mark L. Blaxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While components of the pathway that establishes left-right asymmetry have been identified in diverse animals, from vertebrates to flies, it is striking that the genes involved in the first symmetry-breaking step remain wholly unknown in the most obviously chiral animals, the gastropod snails. Previously, research on snails was used to show that left-right signaling of Nodal, downstream of symmetry breaking, may be an ancestral feature of the Bilateria [1, 2]. Here, we report that a disabling mutation in one copy of a tandemly duplicated, diaphanous-related formin is perfectly associated with symmetry breaking in the pond snail. This is supported by the observation that an anti-formin drug treatment converts dextral snail embryos to a sinistral phenocopy, and in frogs, drug inhibition or overexpression by microinjection of formin has a chirality-randomizing effect in early (pre-cilia) embryos. Contrary to expectations based on existing models [3-5], we discovered asymmetric gene expression in 2- and 4-cell snail embryos, preceding morphological asymmetry. As the formin-actin filament has been shown to be part of an asymmetry-breaking switch in vitro [6, 7], together these results are consistent with the view that animals with diverse body plans may derive their asymmetries from the same intracellular chiral elements [8].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)654-660
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 7

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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