Gastropods are characterized by their asymmetric bodyplan, which develops through a unique ontogenetic process called 'torsion'. Despite several intensive studies, the driving force of torsion remains to be determined. Although torsion was traditionally believed to be driven by contraction of the retractor muscle connecting the foot and the shell, some recent reports cast doubt on that idea. Here, we report that torsion is accompanied by left-right asymmetric cell proliferation in the mantle epithelium in the limpet Nipponacmea fuscoviridis. Furthermore, we found that pharmacological inhibition of the transforming growth factor-b (TGF-b) signalling pathway, including that of Nodal, blocked torsion. We confirmed that the blocking was brought about through failure of the activation of cell proliferation in the right-hand side of the mantle epithelium, while the retractor muscle apparently developed normally. These results suggest that limpet torsion is driven by left-right asymmetric cell proliferation in the mantle epithelium, induced by the TGF-b pathway.
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