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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2019 Dec 9. pii: a036731. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a036731. [Epub ahead of print]

Cardiopharyngeal Progenitor Specification: Multiple Roads to the Heart and Head Muscles.

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Laboratory of Stem Cells and Cancer, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070 Brussels, Belgium.
Aix Marseille Univ, INSERM, MMG U1251, 13005 Marseille, France.


During embryonic development, the heart arises from various sources of undifferentiated mesodermal progenitors, with an additional contribution from ectodermal neural crest cells. Mesodermal cardiac progenitors are plastic and multipotent, but are nevertheless specified to a precise heart region and cell type very early during development. Recent findings have defined both this lineage plasticity and early commitment of cardiac progenitors, using a combination of single-cell and population analyses. In this review, we discuss several aspects of cardiac progenitor specification. We discuss their markers, fate potential in vitro and in vivo, early segregation and commitment, and also intrinsic and extrinsic cues regulating lineage restriction from multipotency to a specific cell type of the heart. Finally, we also discuss the subdivisions of the cardiopharyngeal field, and the shared origins of the heart with other mesodermal derivatives, including head and neck muscles.

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