News of the WeekDevelopmental Biology

How to Get a Heart in The Right Place

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Science  02 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5424, pp. 23
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5424.23a

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA-- Like a child learning to put her hand over her heart for the Pledge of Allegiance, a developing embryo needs to know its right from its left. The heart goes on the left and the liver on the right, but how the embryo knows which is which is a long-standing puzzle. At the annual meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology here last month, one promising theory--that twirling "hairs" on embryonic cells set up the left-right distinction--gained strength from studies of mutant mouse strains.