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Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med. 2011 Mar-Apr;3(2):191-205. doi: 10.1002/wsbm.112.

Signaling pathways in early cardiac development.

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Greenberg Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, USA.


Cardiomyocyte differentiation is a complex multistep process requiring the proper temporal and spatial integration of multiple signaling pathways. Previous embryological and genetic studies have identified a number of signaling pathways that are critical to mediate the initial formation of the mesoderm and its allocation to the cardiomyocyte lineage. It has become clear that some of these signaling networks work autonomously, in differentiating myocardial cells whereas others work non-autonomously, in neighboring tissues, to regulate cardiac differentiation indirectly. Here, we provide an overview of three signaling networks that mediate cardiomyocyte specification and review recent insights into their specific roles in heart development. In addition, we demonstrate how systems level, 'omic approaches' and other high-throughput techniques such as small molecules screens are beginning to impact our understanding of cardiomyocyte specification and, to identify novel signaling pathways involved in this process. In particular, it now seems clear that at least one chemokine receptor CXCR4 is an important marker for cardiomyocyte progenitors and may play a functional role in their differentiation. Finally, we discuss some gaps in our current understanding of early lineage selection that could be addressed by various types of omic analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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