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Genesis. 2010 Aug;48(8):492-504. doi: 10.1002/dvg.20650.

Focal adhesion kinase is essential for cardiac looping and multichamber heart formation.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a critical mediator of matrix- and growth factor-induced signaling during development. Myocyte-restricted FAK deletion in mid-gestation mice results in impaired ventricular septation and cardiac compaction. However, whether FAK regulates early cardiogenic steps remains unknown. To explore a role for FAK in multi-chambered heart formation, we utilized anti-sense morpholinos to deplete FAK in Xenopus laevis. Xenopus FAK morphants exhibited impaired cardiogenesis, pronounced pericardial edema, and lethality by tadpole stages. Spatial-temporal assessment of cardiac marker gene expression revealed that FAK was not necessary for midline migration, differentiation, fusion of cardiac precursors, or linear heart tube formation. However, myocyte proliferation was significantly reduced in FAK morphant heart tubes and these tubes failed to undergo proper looping morphogenesis. Collectively our data imply that FAK plays an essential role in chamber outgrowth and looping morphogenesis likely stimulated by fibroblast growth factors (and possibly other) cardiotrophic factors.

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