[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Developing organs acquire a specific three-dimensional form that ensures their normal function. Cardiac function, for example, depends upon properly shaped chambers that emerge from a primitive heart tube. The cellular mechanisms that control chamber shape are not yet understood. Here, we demonstrate that chamber morphology develops via changes in cell morphology, and we determine key regulatory influences on this process. Focusing on the development of the ventricular chamber in zebrafish, we show that cardiomyocyte cell shape changes underlie the formation of characteristic chamber curvatures. In particular, cardiomyocyte elongation occurs within a confined area that forms the ventricular outer curvature. Because cardiac contractility and blood flow begin before chambers emerge, cardiac function has the potential to influence chamber curvature formation. Employing zebrafish mutants with functional deficiencies, we find that blood flow and contractility independently regulate cell shape changes in the emerging ventricle. Reduction of circulation limits the extent of cardiomyocyte elongation; in contrast, disruption of sarcomere formation releases limitations on cardiomyocyte dimensions. Thus, the acquisition of normal cardiomyocyte morphology requires a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic physical forces. Together, these data establish regionally confined cell shape change as a cellular mechanism for chamber emergence and as a link in the relationship between form and function during organ morphogenesis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The embryonic vertebrate heart is composed of two major chambers, a ventricle and an atrium, each of which has a characteristic size, shape and functional capacity that contributes to efficient circulation. Chamber-specific gene expression programs are likely to regulate key aspects of chamber formation. Here, we demonstrate that epigenetic factors also have a significant influence on chamber morphogenesis. Specifically, we show that an atrium-specific contractility defect has a profound impact on ventricular development. We find that the zebrafish locus weak atrium encodes an atrium-specific myosin heavy chain that is required for atrial myofibrillar organization and contraction. Despite their atrial defects, weak atrium mutants can maintain circulation through ventricular contraction. However, the weak atrium mutant ventricle becomes unusually compact, exhibiting a thickened myocardial wall, a narrow lumen and changes in myocardial gene expression. As weak atrium/atrial myosin heavy chain is expressed only in the atrium, the ventricular phenotypes in weak atrium mutants represent a secondary response to atrial dysfunction. Thus, not only is cardiac form essential for cardiac function, but there also exists a reciprocal relationship in which function can influence form. These findings are relevant to our understanding of congenital defects in cardiac chamber morphogenesis.
Development 01/2004; 130(24):6121-9. · 6.21 Impact Factor