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Dev Biol. 1990 May;139(1):197-209.

In vitro analysis of cardiac progenitor cell differentiation.

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Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York 10021.


Cardiac myoblast commitment and differentiation were studied in the developing avian embryo. Single cell analysis of isolated cardiogenic cells grown in vitro established that stage 4 (newly gastrulated) mesodermal cells are capable of myocyte differentiation in the absence of intercellular contact or short range cellular interactions. While cardiac myocytes derived from single isolated progenitors expressed muscle-specific myosin heavy chains (MHC), atrial and ventricular MHCs characteristic of in vivo development were not detected. When the same progenitors were grown at high density or in organ cultures, cell-specific, expression of atrial and ventricular MHCs was observed, suggesting a role of cell density-dependent processes for differential MHC expression. Cardiogenic mesoderm (stages 4-8) was treated with the cocarcinogen 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), maintained as organ cultures, and assayed for muscle differentiation in an attempt to identify possible stage-specific variations in cardiac progenitors. TPA irreversibly blocked the differentiation of early (stages 4-7) progenitors. When exposed to TPA, stages 4-7 cardiogenic cells failed to synthesize several muscle-specific proteins as determined by immunochemical analysis of myosin synthesis and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis of 35S-labeled proteins isolated from cardiogenic cultures. In addition, stages 4-7, TPA-treated cells did not differentiate after the withdrawal of TPA. In contrast, TPA had no effect on the expression of several muscle-specific proteins in late (stage 8) cells including the cell-specific expression of atrial and ventricular MHCs.

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