Increasing evidence suggests that intrinsic cell chirality significantly contributes to the left–right (LR) asymmetry in embryonic development, which is a well-conserved characteristic of living organisms. With animal embryos, several theories have been established, but there are still controversies regarding mechanisms associated with embryonic LR symmetry breaking and the formation of asymmetric internal organs. Recently, in vitro systems have been developed to determine cell chirality and to recapitulate multicellular chiral morphogenesis on a chip. These studies demonstrate that chirality is indeed a universal property of the cell that can be observed with well-controlled experiments such as micropatterning. In this paper, we discuss the possible benefits of these in vitro systems to research in LR asymmetry, categorize available platforms for single-cell chirality and multicellular chiral morphogenesis, and review mathematical models used for in vitro cell chirality and its applications in in vivo embryonic development. These recent developments enable the interrogation of the intracellular machinery in LR axis establishment and accelerate research in birth defects in laterality.
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 April 22, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.