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<jats:p>The ultimate formation of a four-chambered heart allowing the separation of the pulmonary and systemic circuits was key for the evolutionary success of tetrapods. Complex processes of cell diversification and tissue morphogenesis allow the left and right cardiac compartments to become distinct but remain poorly understood. Here, we describe an unexpected laterality in the single zebrafish atrium analogous to that of the two atria in amniotes, including mammals. This laterality appears to derive from an embryonic antero-posterior asymmetry revealed by the expression of the transcription factor gene meis2b. In adult zebrafish hearts, meis2b expression is restricted to the left side of the atrium where it controls the expression of pitx2c, a regulator of left atrial identity in mammals. Altogether, our studies suggest that the multi-chambered atrium in amniotes arose from a molecular blueprint present before the evolutionary emergence of cardiac septation and provide insights into the establishment of atrial asymmetry.</jats:p>

Original publication




Journal article




eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd

Publication Date