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Left-right asymmetric expression of dpp in the mantle of gastropods correlates with asymmetric shell coiling

Keisuke Shimizu1*, Minoru Iijima2, Davin HE Setiamarga1, Isao Sarashina1, Tetsuhiro Kudoh3, Takahiro Asami4, Edi Gittenberger5 and Kazuyoshi Endo1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Earth & Planetary Science, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Tokyo, 113-0033, Japan

2 Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, 305-0006, Japan

3 College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD, UK

4 Department of Biology, Shinshu University, Mastumoto, 390-0802, Japan

5 Netherlands Center for Biodiversity, Leiden, The Netherlands

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EvoDevo 2013, 4:15  doi:10.1186/2041-9139-4-15

Published: 28 May 2013



Various shapes of gastropod shells have evolved ever since the Cambrian. Although theoretical analyses of morphogenesis exist, the molecular basis of shell development remains unclear. We compared expression patterns of the decapentaplegic (dpp) gene in the shell gland and mantle tissues at various developmental stages between coiled-shell and non-coiled-shell gastropods.


We analyzed the expression patterns of dpp for the two limpets Patella vulgata and Nipponacmea fuscoviridis, and for the dextral wild-type and sinistral mutant lineage of the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis. The limpets had symmetric expression patterns of dpp throughout ontogeny, whereas in the pond snail, the results indicated asymmetric and mirror image patterns between the dextral and sinistral lineages.


We hypothesize that Dpp induces mantle expansion, and the presence of a left/right asymmetric gradient of the Dpp protein causes the formation of a coiled shell. Our results provide a molecular explanation for shell, coiling including new insights into expression patterns in post-embryonic development, which should aid in understanding how various shell shapes are formed and have evolved in the gastropods.

Left-right asymmetry; Decapentaplegic; Shell coiling; Gastropods