The role of Lefty2 in left-right patterning was investigated by analysis of mutant mice that lack asymmetric expression of lefty2. These animals exhibited various situs defects including left isomerism. The asymmetric expression of nodal was prolonged and the expression of Pitx2 was upregulated in the mutant embryos. The absence of Lefty2 conferred on Nodal the ability to diffuse over a long distance. Thus, Nodal-responsive genes, including Pitx2, that are normally expressed on the left side were expressed bilaterally in the mutant embryos, even though nodal expression was confined to the left side. These results suggest that Nodal is a long-range signaling molecule but that its range of action is normally limited by the feedback inhibitor Lefty2.
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