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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 1989 Feb;21(2):123-37.

Formation of the primitive myo- and endocardial tubes in the chicken embryo.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Postgraduate Medical School, Budapest, Hungary.


The morphogenesis of the mesenchymal cardiogenic plate, the formation of the bilateral heart primordia leading to the primitive heart tube, and also the genesis of the endocardial tube, have been studied in 1 to 13 somite chick embryos. The morphological data were compared with those obtained in electrophysiological studies of the development of the cardiac action potentials (Fujii et al., 1981a). The primordia of the consecutive heart chambers are definable before the appearance of myosin-type filaments and primitive Z bands, which occurs simultaneously with the first spontaneous action potentials in the 7 somite embryo. At the 8 to 9 somite stage, fusion of the lateral heart primordia proceeds to include the outflow tract and atrial primordia; the pacemaker site migrates into the atrial wall and subsequently into the sinus venosus, this process occurring simultaneously with the progressive transformation of mesenchymal cells into cardiomyocytes. Proendocardial cells are first detected detaching individually or in small groups from the cardiogenic plate to become attached by fine filamentous material to the basal surface of the foregut endoderm, on which they "stream", establishing an anastomosing V-shaped array with respect to the ventral mesoderm. This array coalesces first at the atrioventricular groove to form double endocardial tubes, which in turn fuse into a single tube with the establishment of the single myocardial tube. Evidence suggests a key role for the ventral mesocardium and its transient attachment zone with the foregut, in providing a line focus for migration of proendocardial cells and primitive capillaries from the lateral splanchnic mesoderm, from which they derive.

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