Embryonic heart formation requires the union of bilateral populations of cardiomyocytes and their reorganization into a simple tube. Little is known about the morphogenetic mechanisms that coordinate assembly of the heart tube and determine its dimensions. Using time-lapse confocal microscopy to track individual cardiomyocyte movements in the zebrafish embryo, we identify two morphologically and genetically separable phases of cell movement that coordinate heart tube assembly. First, all cardiomyocytes undergo coherent medial movement. Next, peripherally located cardiomyocytes change their direction of movement, angling toward the endocardial precursors and thereby establishing the initial circumference of the nascent heart tube. These two phases of cardiomyocyte behavior are independently regulated. Furthermore, we find that myocardial-endocardial interactions influence the second phase by regulating the induction, direction and duration of cardiomyocyte movement. Thus, the endocardium plays a crucial early role in cardiac morphogenesis, organizing cardiomyocytes into a configuration appropriate for heart tube assembly. Together, our data reveal a dynamic cellular mechanism by which tissue interactions establish organ architecture.
"The heart is the first functional organ in the developing embryo. It forms through an elegant series of cell migrations (Holtzman et al., 2007; Baker et al., 2008; Rohr et al., 2008; Smith et al., 2008) and cell fate decisions leading to the formation of an asymmetrically placed contractile linear heart tube composed of an inner endocardium and an outer muscular myocardium. Heart tube morphogenesis and its regulation has been the focus of many recent studies. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Cardiac maturation is vital for animal survival and must occur throughout the animal's life. Zebrafish are increasingly used to model cardiac disease; however, little is known about how the cardiovascular system matures. We conducted a systematic analysis of cardiac maturation from larvae through to adulthood and assessed cardiac features influenced by genetic and environmental factors.
We identified a novel step in cardiac maturation, termed cardiac rotation, where the larval heart rotates into its final orientation within the thoracic cavity with the atrium placed behind the ventricle. This rotation is followed by linear ventricle growth and an increase in the angle between bulbous arteriosus and the ventricle. The ventricle transitions from a rectangle, to a triangle and ultimately a sphere that is significantly enveloped by the atrium. In addition, trabeculae are similarly patterned in the zebrafish and humans, both with muscular fingerlike projections and muscle bands that span the cardiac chamber. Of interest, partial loss of atrial contraction in myosin heavy chain 6 (myh6/wea(hu423/+)) mutants result in the adult maintaining a larval cardiac form.
These findings serve as a foundation for the study of defects in cardiovascular development from both genetic and environmental factors.
"Second, in contrast to our results in the avian embryo, in fish embryos, endocardial precursors appear to rapidly migrate to the site of heart tube formation, where they arrive and form a sheet prior to the formation of bilateral myocardial primordia and initiation of their midline-directed movements (Bussmann et al., 2007). After their arrival at the ventral midline, endocardial cells direct angular movements of myocardial progenitors in zebrafish (Holtzman et al., 2007). Bussmann et al. also pointed out the virtual absence of dynamic imaging-based studies of endocardial progenitor motion in avian or mouse embryos, a gap that the current study aims to help fill. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endocardial cells play a critical role in cardiac development and function, forming the innermost layer of the early (tubular) heart, separated from the myocardium by extracellular matrix (ECM). However, knowledge is limited regarding the interactions of cardiac progenitors and surrounding ECM during dramatic tissue rearrangements and concomitant cellular repositioning events that underlie endocardial morphogenesis. By analyzing the movements of immunolabeled ECM components (fibronectin, fibrillin-2) and TIE1 positive endocardial progenitors in time-lapse recordings of quail embryonic development, we demonstrate that the transformation of the primary heart field within the anterior lateral plate mesoderm (LPM) into a tubular heart involves the precise co-movement of primordial endocardial cells with the surrounding ECM. Thus, the ECM of the tubular heart contains filaments that were associated with the anterior LPM at earlier developmental stages. Moreover, endocardial cells exhibit surprisingly little directed active motility, that is, sustained directed movements relative to the surrounding ECM microenvironment. These findings point to the importance of large-scale tissue movements that convect cells to the appropriate positions during cardiac organogenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endocardial cells form the inner endothelial layer of the heart tube, surrounded by the myocardium. Signaling pathways that regulate endocardial cell specification and differentiation are largely unknown and the origin of endocardial progenitors is still being debated. To study pathways that regulate endocardial differentiation in a zebrafish model system, we isolated zebrafish NFATc1 homolog which is expressed in endocardial but not vascular endothelial cells. We further demonstrate that Hedgehog (Hh) but not VegfA or Notch signaling is required for early endocardial morphogenesis. Pharmacological inhibition of Hh signaling with cyclopamine treatment resulted in nearly complete loss of the endocardial marker expression. Simultaneous knockdown of the two zebrafish sonic hedgehog homologs, shh and twhh or Hh co-receptor smoothened (smo) resulted in similar defects in endocardial morphogenesis. Inhibition of Hh signaling resulted in the loss of fibronectin (fn1) expression in the presumptive endocardial progenitors as early as the 10-somite stage which suggests that Hh signaling is required for the earliest stages of endocardial specification. We further show that the endoderm plays a critical role in migration but not specification or differentiation of the endocardial progenitors while notochord-derived Hh is a likely source for the specification and differentiation signal. Mosaic analysis using cell transplantation shows that Smo function is required cell-autonomously within endocardial progenitor cells. Our results argue that Hh provides a critical signal to induce the specification and differentiation of endocardial progenitors.
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