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Dev Biol. 1999 Apr 15;208(2):307-23.

Connexin 43 expression reflects neural crest patterns during cardiovascular development.

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1
Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, 30912-2640, USA. kwaldo@mail.mcg.edu

Abstract

We used transgenic mice in which the promoter sequence for connexin 43 linked to a lacZ reporter was expressed in neural crest but not myocardial cells to document the pattern of cardiac neural crest cells in the caudal pharyngeal arches and cardiac outflow tract. Expression of lacZ was strikingly similar to that of cardiac neural crest cells in quail-chick chimeras. By using this transgenic mouse line to compare cardiac neural crest involvement in cardiac outflow septation and aortic arch artery development in mouse and chick, we were able to note differences and similarities in their cardiovascular development. Similar to neural crest cells in the chick, lacZ-positive cells formed a sheath around the persisting aortic arch arteries, comprised the aorticopulmonary septation complex, were located at the site of final fusion of the conal cushions, and populated the cardiac ganglia. In quail-chick chimeras generated for this study, neural crest cells entered the outflow tract by two pathways, submyocardially and subendocardially. In the mouse only the subendocardial population of lacZ-positive cells could be seen as the cells entered the outflow tract. In addition lacZ-positive cells completely surrounded the aortic sac prior to septation, while in the chick, neural crest cells were scattered around the aortic sac with the bulk of cells distributed in the bridging portion of the aorticopulmonary septation complex. In the chick, submyocardial populations of neural crest cells assembled on opposite sides of the aortic sac and entered the conotruncal ridges. Even though the aortic sac in the mouse was initially surrounded by lacZ-positive cells, the two outflow vessels that resulted from its septation showed differential lacZ expression. The ascending aorta was invested by lacZ-positive cells while the pulmonary trunk was devoid of lacZ staining. In the chick, both of these vessels were invested by neural crest cells, but the cells arrived secondarily by displacement from the aortic arch arteries during vessel elongation. This may indicate a difference in derivation of the pulmonary trunk in the mouse or a difference in distribution of cardiac neural crest cells. An independent mouse neural crest marker is needed to confirm whether the differences are indeed due to species differences in cardiovascular and/or neural crest development. Nevertheless, with the differences noted, we believe that this mouse model faithfully represents the location of cardiac neural crest cells. The similarities in location of lacZ-expressing cells in the mouse to that of cardiac neural crest cells in the chick suggest that this mouse is a good model for studying mammalian cardiac neural crest and that the mammalian cardiac neural crest performs functions similar to those shown for chick.

PMID:
10191047
DOI:
10.1006/dbio.1999.9219
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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