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Micropatterning of cells reveals chiral morphogenesis

Leo Q Wan1*, Kacey Ronaldson2, Mark Guirguis1 and Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180, USA

2 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA

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Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2013, 4:24  doi:10.1186/scrt172

Published: 3 April 2013


Invariant left-right (LR) patterning or chirality is critical for embryonic development. The loss or reversal of LR asymmetry is often associated with malformations and disease. Although several theories have been proposed, the exact mechanism of the initiation of the LR symmetry has not yet been fully elucidated. Recently, chirality has been detected within single cells as well as multicellular structures using several in vitro approaches. These studies demonstrated the universality of cell chirality, its dependence on cell phenotype, and the role of physical boundaries. In this review, we discuss the theories for developmental LR asymmetry, compare various in vitro cell chirality model systems, and highlight possible roles of cell chirality in stem cell differentiation. We emphasize that the in vitro cell chirality systems have great promise for helping unveil the nature of chiral morphogenesis in development.