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Am J Med Genet. 2000 Winter;97(4):248-57.

Vertebrate model systems in the study of early heart development: Xenopus and zebrafish.

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University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, USA.


Xenopus and zebrafish serve as outstanding models in which to study vertebrate heart development. The embryos are transparent, allowing observation during organogenesis; they can be obtained in large numbers; and they are readily accessible to embryologic manipulation and microinjection of RNA, DNA, or protein. These embryos can live by diffusion for several days, allowing analysis of mutants or experimental treatments that perturb normal heart development. Xenopus embryos have been used to understand the induction of the cardiac field, the role of Nkx genes in cardiac development, and the role transforming growth factor beta molecules in the establishment and signaling of left-right axis information. Large-scale mutant screens in zebrafish and the development of transgenics in both Xenopus and zebrafish have accelerated the molecular identification of genes that regulate conserved steps in cardiovascular development.

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