The rostro-caudal position of cardiac myocytes affect their fate


  • M. Montgomery and J. Litvin contributed equally to this work.


During chick embryogenesis, cells destined to form cardiac myocytes are located within the primitive streak at stage 3 in the same relative anterior-posterior distribution as in the prelooped heart. The most rostral cells contribute to the extreme anterior pole of the heart, the bulbus cordis, and the most caudal to the extreme posterior end, the sinoatrial region. After gastrulation, these cells commit to the myocyte lineage and, retaining their relative positions, migrate to the anterior lateral plate. From stages 5 to 10 they diversify into atrial and ventricular myocytes, with the former located posteriorly and the latter, anteriorly. To determine the effect of a change in the rostro-caudal position of these cells on their diversification, anterior lateral plate mesoderm and the underlying endoderm were cut and rotated 180° along the longitudinal axis, at stages 4–8. The subsequent diversification of these precursor cells into atrial and ventricular myocytes was examined using lineage-specific markers. Our results showed that altering location along the longitudinal axis through stage 6 changed the normal fate of a precursor cell. The orientation of the overlying ectoderm did not alter normal morphogenesis or determination of fate. Dev Dyn;218:123–135. © 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.