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Dev Biol. 2003 May 1;257(1):127-39.

Cardiac neural crest contributes to cardiomyogenesis in zebrafish.

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  • 1Huntsman Cancer Institute Center for Children, Departments of Oncological Sciences and Pediatrics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.


In birds and mammals, cardiac neural crest is essential for heart development and contributes to conotruncal cushion formation and outflow tract septation. The zebrafish prototypical heart lacks outflow tract septation, raising the question of whether cardiac neural crest exists in zebrafish. Here, results from three distinct lineage-labeling approaches identify zebrafish cardiac neural crest cells and indicate that these cells have the ability to generate MF20-positive muscle cells in the myocardium of the major chambers during development. Fate-mapping demonstrates that cardiac neural crest cells originate both from neural tube regions analogous to those found in birds, as well as from a novel region rostral to the otic vesicle. In contrast to other vertebrates, cardiac neural crest invades the myocardium in all segments of the heart, including outflow tract, atrium, atrioventricular junction, and ventricle in zebrafish. Three distinct groups of premigratory neural crest along the rostrocaudal axis have different propensities to contribute to different segments in the heart and are correspondingly marked by unique combinations of gene expression patterns. Zebrafish will serve as a model for understanding interactions between cardiac neural crest and cardiovascular development.

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