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ZIC2 mutation is known to cause holoprosencephaly (HPE). A subset of ZIC2 HPE probands harbour cardiovascular and visceral anomalies suggestive of laterality defects. 3D-imaging of novel mouse Zic2 mutants uncovers, in addition to HPE, laterality defects in lungs, heart, vasculature and viscera. A strong bias towards right isomerism indicates a failure to establish left identity in the lateral plate mesoderm (LPM), a phenotype that cannot be explained simply by the defective ciliogenesis previously noted in Zic2 mutants. Gene expression analysis showed that the left-determining NODAL-dependent signalling cascade fails to be activated in the LPM, and that the expression of Nodal at the node, which normally triggers this event, is itself defective in these embryos. Analysis of ChiP-seq data, in vitro transcriptional assays and mutagenesis reveals a requirement for a low-affinity ZIC2 binding site for the activation of the Nodal enhancer HBE, which is normally active in node precursor cells. These data show that ZIC2 is required for correct Nodal expression at the node and suggest a model in which ZIC2 acts at different levels to establish LR asymmetry, promoting both the production of the signal that induces left side identity and the morphogenesis of the cilia that bias its distribution.

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Animals, Body Patterning, Cilia, Holoprosencephaly, Mesoderm, Mice, Morphogenesis, Mutation, Nodal Protein, Nuclear Proteins, Phenotype, Signal Transduction, Transcription Factors