Thursday, October 05, 2006

 

Genetics Of Multi-chambered Heart Evolution: Hearts Or Tails?

A new paper in the October 1 2006 issue of Genetics and Development elucidates the genetics of heart formation in the sea squirt, and lends surprising new insight into the genetic changes that may have driven the evolution of the multi-chambered vertebrate heart.

Brad Davidson and colleagues in Michael Levine's lab at UC Berkeley have discovered that the transcription factor Ets1/2, along with the signaling molecule FGF, controls early heart formation in the sea squirt, Ciona intestinalis.

Sea squirts are most commonly found in shallow ocean waters attached to algae, rocks or seaweed. They have been used for over 100 years as a highly useful experimental model organism for the study of animal development. A simple chordate, Ciona is being used in the lab to study the heart development of higher organisms because it shares several characteristics with vertebrates - although ultimately, Ciona, develops a heart with just one chamber (as opposed to vertebrates' multi-chambered heart). [University of California]
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Based on "FGF signaling delineates the cardiac progenitor field in the simple chordate, Ciona intestinalis" (Abstract)

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