Dorsoventral compartmentalization of mesoderm in heart-forming area of chick embryo
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In early chick development (stages 5–8) the seemingly homogeneous mesoderm in the heart-forming area splits to somatic and splanchnic cardiogenic layers. Little is known about dorsoventral compartmentalization before splitting. Electron microscopic analysis shows the early dorsoventral polarization of precardiomyocytes. The dorsal compartment has epithelial and the ventral compartment mesenchymal features with numerous protrusions. At stage 5+–6 staining for wheat germ agglutinine (WGA) transiently demarcates the ventral part of mesoderm. The glycosomes (β-glycogen) show a dorsoventral gradient in the mesoderm of the cardiogenic field during the initial step of the compaction. The differential expression of glycosomes depends on the activity of glycogen synthase kinase 3-β, a component of the wnt-signaling pathway, and might in this spatiotemporal developmental window be involved in the commitment of presumptive cardiogenic and somatic cells. To verify this hypothesis simulation experiments with LiCl in vitro were carried out. The normal splitting of the mesoderm and the development of heart primordia were disturbed. Blocking the receptors of WGA by WGA in vitro at stage 5–5+ perturbs the migration of mesoderm to anterio-medial direction. It appears that early specification of dorsal and ventral compartments of the mesoderm in the heart-forming area correlates with the gradient of glycosomes. Our results suggest that the target of LiCl action (glycogen synthase kinase 3-β) might be involved in the specification of heart primordia and that WGA receptors mediate the migration of mesoderm to the anterio-medial direction.
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