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Evolutionary origins of the vertebrate heart: Specification of the cardiac lineage in Ciona intestinalis

By Brad Davidson and Michael Levine

Abstract

Here we exploit the extensive cell lineage information and streamlined genome of the ascidian, Ciona intestinalis, to investigate heart development in a basal chordate. Several cardiac genes were analyzed, including the sole Ciona ortholog of the Drosophila tinman gene, and tissue-specific enhancers were isolated for some of the genes. Conserved sequence motifs within these enhancers facilitated the isolation of a heart enhancer for the Ciona Hand-like gene. Altogether, these studies provide a regulatory framework for the differentiation of the cardiac mesoderm, beginning at the 110-cell stage, and extending through the fusion of cardiac progenitors during tail elongation. The cardiac lineage shares a common origin with the germ line, and zygotic transcription is first detected in the heart progenitors only after its separation from the germ line at the 64-cell stage. We propose that germ-line determinants influence the specification of the cardiac mesoderm, both by inhibiting inductive signals required for the development of noncardiac mesoderm lineages, and by providing a localized source of Wnt-5 and other signals required for heart development. We discuss the possibility that the germ line also influences the specification of the vertebrate heart

Topics: Biological Sciences
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1073/pnas.1634991100
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:208781
Provided by: PubMed Central
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