Anatomy and Embryology

, Volume 211, Issue 5, pp 443–454 | Cite as

Myosin-based contraction is not necessary for cardiac c-looping in the chick embryo

  • Mathieu C. Rémond
  • Judy A. Fee
  • Elliot L. Elson
  • Larry A. TaberEmail author
Original Article


During the initial phase of cardiac looping, known as c-looping, the heart bends and twists into a c-shaped tube with the convex outer curvature normally directed toward the right side of the embryo. Despite intensive study for more than 80 years, the biophysical mechanisms that drive and regulate looping remain poorly understood, although some investigators have speculated that differential cytoskeletal contraction supplies the driving force for c-looping. The purpose of this investigation was to test this hypothesis. To inhibit contraction, embryonic chick hearts at stages 10–12 (10–16 somites, 33–48 h) were exposed to the myosin inhibitors 2,3-butanedione monoxime (BDM), ML-7, Y-27632, and blebbistatin. Experiments were conducted in both whole embryo culture and, to focus on bending alone, isolated heart culture. Measurements of heart stiffness and phosphorylation of the myosin regulatory light chains showed that BDM, Y-27632, and blebbistatin significantly reduced myocardial contractility, while ML-7 had a lesser effect. None of these drugs significantly affected looping during the studied stages. These results suggest that active contraction is not required for normal c-looping of the embryonic chick heart between stages 10 and 12.


Heart development BDM Y-27632 Blebbistatin Cytoskeletal contraction 



The authors wish to thank William B. McConnaughey, Kenneth M. Pryse, and Tetsuro Wakatsuki for their help and advice with the indentation experiments. This work was supported by NIH grant R01 HL64347 (LAT).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathieu C. Rémond
    • 1
  • Judy A. Fee
    • 2
  • Elliot L. Elson
    • 2
  • Larry A. Taber
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringWashington UniversitySt LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiophysicsWashington University School of MedicineSt LouisUSA

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