Send to

Choose Destination
Dev Biol. 2003 Jun 1;258(1):1-19.

Heart development: molecular insights into cardiac specification and early morphogenesis.

Author information

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Technical University of Braunschweig, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany.


The heart develops from two bilateral heart fields that are formed during early gastrulation. In recent years, signaling pathways that specify cardiac mesoderm have been extensively analyzed. In addition, a battery of transcription factors that regulate different aspects of cardiac morphogenesis and cytodifferentiation have been identified and characterized in model organisms. At the anterior pole, a secondary heart field is formed, which in its molecular make-up, appears to be similar to the primary heart field. The cardiac outflow tract and the right ventricle to a large extent are derivatives of this anterior heart field. Cardiac mesoderm receives positional information by which it is patterned along the three body axes. The molecular control of left-right axis development has received particular attention, and the underlying regulatory network begins to emerge. Cardiac chamber development involves the activation of a transcription program that is different from the one present in the primary heart field and regulates cardiac morphogenesis in a region-specific manner. This review also attempts to identify areas in which additional research is needed to fully understand early cardiac development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center