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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Apr;1833(4):795-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2012.10.003. Epub 2012 Oct 7.

Second heart field cardiac progenitor cells in the early mouse embryo.

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Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille-Luminy, Marseille, France.


At the end of the first week of mouse gestation, cardiomyocyte differentiation initiates in the cardiac crescent to give rise to the linear heart tube. The heart tube subsequently elongates by addition of cardiac progenitor cells from adjacent pharyngeal mesoderm to the growing arterial and venous poles. These progenitor cells, termed the second heart field, originate in splanchnic mesoderm medial to cells of the cardiac crescent and are patterned into anterior and posterior domains adjacent to the arterial and venous poles of the heart, respectively. Perturbation of second heart field cell deployment results in a spectrum of congenital heart anomalies including conotruncal and atrial septal defects seen in human patients. Here, we briefly review current knowledge of how the properties of second heart field cells are controlled by a network of transcriptional regulators and intercellular signaling pathways. Focus will be on 1) the regulation of cardiac progenitor cell proliferation in pharyngeal mesoderm, 2) the control of progressive progenitor cell differentiation and 3) the patterning of cardiac progenitor cells in the dorsal pericardial wall. Coordination of these three processes in the early embryo drives progressive heart tube elongation during cardiac morphogenesis. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Cardiomyocyte Biology: Cardiac Pathways of Differentiation, Metabolism and Contraction.

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