Two developmentally distinct populations of neural crest cells contribute to the zebrafish heart

Ann M. Cavanaugh, Jie Huang, Jau Nian Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Cardiac neural crest cells are essential for outflow tract remodeling in animals with divided systemic and pulmonary circulatory systems, but their contributions to cardiac development in animals with a single-loop circulatory system are less clear. Here we genetically labeled neural crest cells and examined their contribution to the developing zebrafish heart. We identified two populations of neural crest cells that contribute to distinct compartments of zebrafish cardiovascular system at different developmental stages. A stream of neural crest cells migrating through pharyngeal arches 1 and 2 integrates into the myocardium of the primitive heart tube between 24 and 30. h post fertilization and gives rise to cardiomyocytes. A second wave of neural crest cells migrating along aortic arch 6 envelops the endothelium of the ventral aorta and invades the bulbus arteriosus after three days of development. Interestingly, while inhibition of FGF signaling has no effect on the integration of neural crest cells to the primitive heart tube, it prevents these cells from contributing to the outflow tract, demonstrating disparate responses of neural crest cells to FGF signaling. Furthermore, neural crest ablation in zebrafish leads to multiple cardiac defects, including reduced heart rate, defective myocardial maturation and a failure to recruit progenitor cells from the second heart field. These findings add to our understanding of the contribution of neural crest cells to the developing heart and provide insights into the requirement for these cells in cardiac maturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-112
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 15 2015
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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