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The establishment of the anterior-posterior (A-P) axis is a fundamental event during early development and marks the start of the process by which the basic body plan is laid down. This axial information determines where gastrulation, that generates and positions cells of the three-germ layers, occurs. A-P patterning requires coordinated interactions between multiple tissues, tight spatiotemporal control of signaling pathways, and the coordination of tissue growth with morphogenetic movements. In the mouse, a specialized population of cells, the anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) undergoes a migration event critical for correct A-P pattern. In this review, we summarize our understanding of the generation of anterior pattern, focusing on the role of the AVE. We will also outline some of the many questions that remain regarding the mechanism by which the first axial asymmetry is established, how the AVE is induced, and how it moves within the visceral endoderm epithelium.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Top Dev Biol

Publication Date





365 - 390


Anterior visceral endoderm, Anterior–posterior axis patterning, Cell migration, Epithelial cell movement, Gastrulation, Morphogenesis, Animals, Body Patterning, Cell Movement, Embryo, Mammalian, Endoderm, Germ Layers, Mice