BioRxiv. 2019;[preprint] doi:10.1101/787358
Physical forces are important participants in the cellular dynamics that shape developing organs. During heart formation, for example, contractility and blood flow generate biomechanical cues that influence patterns of cell behavior. Here, we address the interplay between function and form during the assembly of the cardiac outflow tract (OFT), a crucial connection between the heart and vasculature that develops while circulation is underway. In zebrafish, we find that the OFT expands via accrual of both endocardial and myocardial cells. However, when cardiac function is disrupted, OFT endocardial growth ceases, accompanied by reduced proliferation and reduced addition of cells from adjacent vessels. The TGFβ receptor Acvrl1 is required for addition of endocardial cells, but not for their proliferation, indicating distinct regulation of these essential cell behaviors. Together, our results suggest that cardiac function modulates OFT morphogenesis by triggering endocardial cell accumulation that induces OFT lumen expansion and shapes OFT dimensions.
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