Quantitative Analysis of 3D Tissue Deformation Reveals Key Cellular Mechanism Associated with Initial Heart Looping


Despite extensive study, the morphogenetic mechanisms of heart looping remain controversial because of a lack of information concerning precise tissue-level deformation and the quantitative relationship between tissue and cellular dynamics; this lack of information causes difficulties in evaluating previously proposed models. To overcome these limitations, we perform four-dimensional (4D) high-resolution imaging to reconstruct a tissue deformation map, which reveals that, at the tissue scale, initial heart looping is achieved by left-right (LR) asymmetry in the direction of deformation within the myocardial tube. We further identify F-actin-dependent directional cell rearrangement in the right myocardium as a major contributor to LR asymmetric tissue deformation. Our findings demonstrate that heart looping involves dynamic and intrinsic cellular behaviors within the tubular tissue and provide a significantly different viewpoint from current models that are based on LR asymmetry of growth and/or stress at the tube boundaries. Finally, we propose a minimally sufficient model for initial heart looping that is also supported by mechanical simulations.


  • Cell Reports

    Cell Reports 30 (11), 3889-3903.e5, 2020-03-17

    Elsevier BV

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