Cardiac function modulates endocardial cell dynamics to shape the cardiac outflow tract

Pragya Sidhwani, Dena M. Leerberg, Giulia L.M. Boezio, Teresa L. Capasso, Hongbo Yang, Neil C. Chi, Beth L. Roman, Didier Y.R. Stainier, Deborah Yelon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


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 under way. 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 flow-responsive TGFβ receptor Acvrl1 is required for addition of endocardial cells, but not for their proliferation, indicating distinct modes of function-dependent regulation for each of these essential cell behaviors. Together, our results indicate that cardiac function modulates OFT morphogenesis by triggering endocardial cell accumulation that induces OFT lumen expansion and shapes OFT dimensions. Moreover, these morphogenetic mechanisms provide new perspectives regarding the potential causes of cardiac birth defects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdev185900
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 17 2020


  • Acvrl1
  • Cardiac function
  • Endocardium
  • Heart development
  • Outflow tract
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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