• heart development;
  • tissue differentiation;
  • differential display;
  • chick;
  • cDNA;
  • cRhoA;
  • siRNA


We have used molecular techniques, combined with classic embryological methods, to identify up-regulated genes associated with early heart development. One of the cDNAs identified and isolated by screening a chick lambda cDNA library was the small guanosine triphosphatase RhoA. RhoA has at least three different length mRNA species, each varying in the length of the 3′ untranslated region. In situ hybridisation and immunocytochemistry analysis of RhoA expression show marked up-regulation in the heart-forming region. In other systems, RhoA signalling has been shown to be important for both gene expression and morphology. To investigate the function of RhoA in early heart development, we used small interfering RNAs (siRNA) in early chick embryos. Disruption of RhoA expression by siRNA treatment resulted in lack of heart tube fusion and abnormal head development. These data indicate that RhoA is important for normal embryogenesis. Developmental Dynamics 227:35–47, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.