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The Early Stages of Heart Development: Insights from Chicken Embryos

School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Rolf Bodmer and Georg Vogler
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis. 2016, 3(2), 12;
Received: 4 March 2016 / Revised: 28 March 2016 / Accepted: 30 March 2016 / Published: 5 April 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-mammalian Animal Models to Study Heart Development and Disease)
The heart is the first functioning organ in the developing embryo and a detailed understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in its formation provides insights into congenital malformations affecting its function and therefore the survival of the organism. Because many developmental mechanisms are highly conserved, it is possible to extrapolate from observations made in invertebrate and vertebrate model organisms to humans. This review will highlight the contributions made through studying heart development in avian embryos, particularly the chicken. The major advantage of chick embryos is their accessibility for surgical manipulation and functional interference approaches, both gain- and loss-of-function. In addition to experiments performed in ovo, the dissection of tissues for ex vivo culture, genomic, or biochemical approaches is straightforward. Furthermore, embryos can be cultured for time-lapse imaging, which enables tracking of fluorescently labeled cells and detailed analysis of tissue morphogenesis. Owing to these features, investigations in chick embryos have led to important discoveries, often complementing genetic studies in mice and zebrafish. As well as including some historical aspects, we cover here some of the crucial advances made in understanding early heart development using the chicken model. View Full-Text
Keywords: chick embryo; fate mapping; heart fields; morphogenesis; in ovo studies chick embryo; fate mapping; heart fields; morphogenesis; in ovo studies
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Wittig, J.G.; Münsterberg, A. The Early Stages of Heart Development: Insights from Chicken Embryos. J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis. 2016, 3, 12.

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