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Dev Biol. 1999 Mar 1;207(1):163-75.

Lack of regulation in the heart forming region of avian embryos.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Cardiovascular Biology, The Children's Hospital Research Foundation, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45229, USA.

Abstract

The ability to regenerate a heart after ablation of cardiogenic mesoderm has been demonstrated in early stage fish and amphibian embryos but this type of regulation of the heart field has not been seen in avians or mammals. The regulative potential of the cardiogenic mesoderm was examined in avian embryos and related to the spatial expression of genes implicated in early cardiogenesis. With the identification of early cardiac regulators such as bmp-2 and nkx-2.5, it is now possible to reconcile classical embryological studies with molecular mechanisms of cardiac lineage determination in vivo. The most anterior lateral embryonic cells were identified as the region that becomes the heart and removal of all or any subset of these cells resulted in the loss of corresponding cardiac structures. In addition, removal of the lateral heart forming mesoderm while leaving the lateral endoderm intact also results in loss of cardiac structures. Thus the medial anterior mesoderm cannot be recruited into the heart lineage in vivo even in the presence of potentially cardiac inducing endoderm. In situ analysis demonstrated that genes involved in early events of cardiogenesis such as bone morphogenetic protein 2 (bmp-2) and nkx-2.5 are expressed coincidentally with the mapped far lateral heart forming region. The activin type IIa receptor (actR-IIa) is a potential mediator of BMP signaling since it is expressed throughout the anterior mesoderm with the highest level of expression occurring in the lateral prospective heart cells. The posterior boundary of actR-IIa is consistent with the posterior boundary of nkx-2.5 expression, supporting a model whereby ActR-IIa is involved in restricting the heart forming region to an anterior subset of lateral cells exposed to BMP-2. Analysis of the cardiogenic potential of the lateral plate mesoderm posterior to nkx-2.5 and actR-IIa expression demonstrated that these cells are not cardiogenic in vitro and that removal of these cells from the embryo does not result in loss of heart tissue in vivo. Thus, the region of the avian embryo that will become the heart is defined medially, laterally, and posteriorly by nkx-2.5 gene expression. Removal of all or part of the nkx-2.5 expressing region results in the loss of corresponding heart structures, demonstrating the inability of the chick embryo to regenerate cardiac tissue in vivo at stages after nkx-2.5 expression is initiated.

Copyright 1999 Academic Press.

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