Left-right asymmetric signaling molecules in mammals include three transforming growth factor β (TGFβ)-related factors, Nodal, Lefty1 and Lefty2. They are all expressed on the left half of developing mouse embryos. Nodal acts as a left-side determinant by transducing signals through Smad and FAST and by inducing Pitx2 expression on the left side. Lefty proteins are antagonists that inhibit Nodal signaling. There are positive and negative transcriptional regulatory loops between nodal and lefty2 genes. Thus, Nodal activates its own gene and lefty2. Lefty2 protein produced then inhibits Nodal signaling and terminates expression of both genes. This feedback mechanism can restrict the range and duration of Nodal signaling in developing embryos.
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