Document Type



In the mouse, the heart primordium arises when mesodermis set aside during gastrulation, is induced by pharyngeal endoderm, migrates ventrally to the midline of the embryo, forms a tube, and begins beating. Little is known of the molecular mechanisms that mediate the determination, mitosis, differentiation, and migration that lead to the beating heart. Transcripts for hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF) and its receptor are coexpressed transiently and dynamically in the premyocardium but not in other heart progenitor cells. Transcripts for HGF ligand and receptor are first detected before cardiac function and looping and persist through the first looping stage, when heart morphology begins to elaborate. HGF ligand and receptor mRNA are detectable after the putative heart transcription factor, Csx/Nkx2-5, and concomitantly with the heart structural gene, cardiac actin. HGF receptor mRNA is detected in the mesoderm of the headfold stage and persists in myocardial precursors of the ventricles and atria (but not in the outflow-tract smooth muscle cells) through the 14- somite stage at 8.75 days after fertilization (day E8.75). At the headfold stage, between E7.5 and E8.0, HGF receptor mRNA was detected in myocardial cells before fusion at the ventral midline. HGF ligand and receptor mRNA transcripts are coexpressed in the embryo, except in the headfold stage (when only the HGF receptor can be detected) and in the heart at the 14- to 18-somite stage (when only HGF ligand can be detected). The dynamic pattern of coexpression suggests an autoregulatory role for HGF and its receptor in early heart development.


Obstetrics and Gynecology


Copyright (1996) American Heart Association, Inc. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Heart Association, Inc. This article is the publisher’s version (American Heart Association, Inc.), previously appearing in CIRCULATION RESEARCH (78, 1996, pp. 1028-1036). Also available online at