Left and right contributions to the Xenopus heart: implications for asymmetric morphogenesis
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- Gormley, J.P. & Nascone-Yoder, N.M. Dev Genes Evol (2003) 213: 390. doi:10.1007/s00427-003-0337-5
The left-right asymmetry of the vertebrate heart is evident in the topology of the heart loop, and in the dissimilar morphology of the left and right chambers. How left-right asymmetric gene expression patterns influence the development of these features is not understood, since the individual roles of the left and right sides of the embryo in heart looping or chamber morphogenesis have not been specifically defined. To this end, we have constructed a bilateral heart-specific fate map of the left and right contributions to the developing heart in the Xenopus embryo. Both the left and right sides contribute to the conoventricular segment of the heart loop; however, the left side contributes to the inner curvature and ventral face of the loop while the right side contributes to the outer curvature and dorsal aspect. In contrast, the left atrium is derived mainly from the original left side of the embryo, while the right atrium is derived primarily from the right side. A comparison of our fate map with the domain of expression of the left-right gene, Pitx2, in the left lateral plate mesoderm, reveals that this Pitx2-expressing region is fated to form the inner curvature of the heart loop, the left atrioventricular canal, and the dorsal aspect of the left atrium. We discuss the implications of these results for the role of left-right asymmetric gene expression in heart looping and chamber morphogenesis.