Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(6):1225-1239. doi:10.7150/ijbs.30100 This issue

Research Paper

Aplnra/b Sequentially Regulate Organ Left-Right Patterning via Distinct Mechanisms

Chengke Zhu1,3*, Zhenghua Guo4*, Yu Zhang2*, Min Liu2, Bingyu Chen2, Kang Cao2, Yongmei Wu2, Min Yang2, Wenqing Yin7, Haixia Zhao2, Haoran Tai2, Yu Ou5, Xiaoping Yu5, Chi Liu6, Shurong Li2, Bingyin Su2, Yi Feng3, Sizhou Huang2✉

1. College of Animal Science in Rongchang Campus, Southwest University, Key Laboratary of Freshwater Fish Reproduction and Development, Ministry of Education, Key Laboratory of Aquatics Science of Chongqing, Chongqing 402460, China.
2. Development and Regeneration Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Department of Anatomy and Histology and Embryology, Chengdu Medical College, Chengdu 610500, China.
3. UoE Centre for Inflammation Research, Queen's Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Bioquarter, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh, EH16 4TJ, UK.
4. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Child Development and Disorders; Key Laboratory of Pediatrics in Chongqing, CSTC2009CA5002; Chongqing International Science and Technology Cooperation Center for Child Development and Disorders, Children's Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, 400014, Chongqing, China.
5. School of Public Health, Chengdu Medical College , Chengdu 610500, China
6. Department of Nephrology, Institute of Nephrology of Chongqing and Kidney Center of PLA, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, PR China.
7. Renal Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. USA.
*These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Zhu C, Guo Z, Zhang Y, Liu M, Chen B, Cao K, Wu Y, Yang M, Yin W, Zhao H, Tai H, Ou Y, Yu X, Liu C, Li S, Su B, Feng Y, Huang S. Aplnra/b Sequentially Regulate Organ Left-Right Patterning via Distinct Mechanisms. Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(6):1225-1239. doi:10.7150/ijbs.30100. Available from

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Graphic abstract

The G protein-coupled receptor APJ/Aplnr has been widely reported to be involved in heart and vascular development and disease, but whether it contributes to organ left-right patterning is largely unknown. Here, we show that in zebrafish, aplnra/b coordinates organ LR patterning in an apela/apln ligand-dependent manner using distinct mechanisms at different stages. During gastrulation and early somitogenesis, aplnra/b loss of function results in heart and liver LR asymmetry defects, accompanied by disturbed KV/cilia morphogenesis and disrupted left-sided Nodal/spaw expression in the LPM. In this process, only aplnra loss of function results in KV/cilia morphogenesis defect. In addition, only apela works as the early endogenous ligand to regulate KV morphogenesis, which then contributes to left-sided Nodal/spaw expression and subsequent organ LR patterning. The aplnra-apela cascade regulates KV morphogenesis by enhancing the expression of foxj1a, but not fgf8 or dnh9, during KV development. At the late somite stage, both aplnra and aplnrb contribute to the expression of lft1 in the trunk midline but do not regulate KV formation, and this role is possibly mediated by both endogenous ligands, apela and apln. In conclusion, our study is the first to identify a role for aplnra/b and their endogenous ligands apela/apln in LR patterning, and it clarifies the distinct roles of aplnra-apela and aplnra/b-apela/apln in orchestrating organ LR patterning.

Keywords: aplnra/b, apela/apln, left right patterning, spaw, midline