1. Developmental Biology
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Live imaging of heart tube development in mouse reveals alternating phases of cardiac differentiation and morphogenesis

  1. Kenzo Ivanovitch
  2. Susana Temiño Valbuena
  3. Miguel Torres  Is a corresponding author
  1. Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC), Spain
Research Article
  • Cited 20
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Cite this article as: eLife 2017;6:e30668 doi: 10.7554/eLife.30668


During vertebrate heart development two progenitor populations, first and second heart fields (FHF, SHF), sequentially contribute to longitudinal subdivisions of the heart tube (HT), with the FHF contributing the left ventricle and part of the atria, and the SHF the rest of the heart. Here we study the dynamics of cardiac differentiation and morphogenesis by tracking individual cells in live analysis of mouse embryos. We report that during an initial phase, FHF precursors differentiate rapidly to form a cardiac crescent, while limited morphogenesis takes place. In a second phase, no differentiation occurs while extensive morphogenesis, including splanchnic mesoderm sliding over the endoderm, results in HT formation. In a third phase, cardiac precursor differentiation resumes and contributes to SHF-derived regions and the dorsal closure of the HT. These results reveal tissue-level coordination between morphogenesis and differentiation during HT formation and provide a new framework to understand heart development.

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Author details

  1. Kenzo Ivanovitch

    Developmental Biology Program, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC), Madrid, Spain
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Susana Temiño Valbuena

    Developmental Biology Program, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC), Madrid, Spain
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Miguel Torres

    Developmental Biology Program, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC), Madrid, Spain
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-0906-4767


Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (BFU2015-71519-P)

  • Miguel Torres

Instituto de Salud Carlos III (RD16/0011/0019)

  • Miguel Torres

European Molecular Biology Organization (ATL1275-2014)

  • Kenzo Ivanovitch

Human Frontier Science Program (LT000609/2015)

  • Kenzo Ivanovitch

Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (BFU2015-70193-REDT)

  • Miguel Torres

Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (SEV-2015-0505)

  • Miguel Torres

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: All animal procedures were approved by the CNIC Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee, by the Community of Madrid (Ref. PROEX 220/15) and conformed to EU Directive 2010/63EU and Recommendation 2007/526/EC regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes, enforced in Spanish law under Real Decreto 1201/2005.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Richard P Harvey, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Australia

Publication history

  1. Received: July 23, 2017
  2. Accepted: November 26, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: December 5, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: December 15, 2017 (version 2)


© 2017, Ivanovitch et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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