Left–right asymmetry in the nervous system is observed across species. Defects in left–right cerebral asymmetry are linked to several neurological diseases, but the molecular mechanisms underlying brain asymmetry in vertebrates are still not very well understood. The Caenorhabditis elegans left and right amphid wing ‘C’ (AWC) olfactory neurons communicate through intercellular calcium signalling in a transient embryonic gap junction neural network to specify two asymmetric subtypes, AWCOFF (default) and AWCON (induced), in a stochastic manner. Here, we highlight the molecular mechanisms that establish and maintain stochastic AWC asymmetry. As the components of the AWC asymmetry pathway are highly conserved, insights from the model organism C. elegans may provide a window onto how brain asymmetry develops in humans.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Provocative questions in left–right asymmetry’.
One contribution of 17 to a theme issue ‘Provocative questions in left–right asymmetry’.
- Accepted May 20, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.