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Embryonic heart morphogenesis


Dynamic three-dimensional reconstruction of the developing Tg (gata1:GFP) zebrafish heart at different stages (28, 33, 60, and 111 hours post fertilization (hpf)) at mid-diastole. These renderings of the three-dimensional architecture at a single time point allow following the morphological changes that are apparent as the heart develops from a tube, then loops to form chambers and to finally become a mature heart. a: atrium, v: ventricle. Arrows indicate flow direction. Scale bar is 100μm

Early in the course of its development, the heart is already beating. This dynamical environment, which, in particular, involves blood flow, is essential for its normal development. We aim at reaching a better understanding of cardiac morphogenesis and function as the heart matures. This is achieved via dynamic, in vivo imaging to capture morphology, dynamics, and gene expression patterns and subsequent analysis to quantify flow velocities and cardiac function or cell migration or division patterns. We aim at building models that describe the complex interactions between the genetic and epigenetic factors that contribute to heart development. Model systems include zebrafish, quail, chicken, mouse and rat.

Selected publications

K.-L. Poon, M. Liebling, I. Kondrichin, M. Garcia, V. Korzh,"Zebrafish Cardiac Enhancer Trap Lines: New Tools for in vivo Studies of Cardiovascular Development and Disease," Developmental Dynamics, Volume 239 Issue 3, pp 914 - 926, 2010.

J. Ohn, H.-J. Tsai, M. Liebling, "Joint Dynamic Imaging of Morphogenesis and Function in the Developing Heart," Organogenesis, vol. 5, iss. 4, Oct./Nov./Dec. 2009.

J. Vermot, A. S. Forouhar, M. Liebling, D. Wu, D. Plummer, M. Gharib, S. E. Fraser, "Reversing Blood Flows Act through klf2a to Ensure Normal Valvulogenesis in the Developing Heart," PLOS Biology, vol. 7, iss. 11, e1000246, November 2009.

K.V. Larin, I.V. Larina, M. Liebling, M. E. Dickinson "Live imaging of early developmental processes in mammalian embryos with optical coherence tomography " Journal of Innovative Optical Health Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 253-259, July 2009.

M. Liebling, A.S. Forouhar, R. Wolleschensky, B. Zimmermann, R. Ankerhold, S.E. Fraser, M. Gharib, M.E. Dickinson, "Rapid Three-Dimensional Imaging and Analysis of the Beating Embryonic Heart Reveals Functional Changes During Development," Developmental Dynamics, vol. 235, iss. 11, pp. 2940-2948, November 2006.

A. S. Forouhar, M. Liebling, A. Hickerson, A. Nasiraei-Moghaddam, H.-J. Tsai, J. R. Hove, S. E. Fraser, M. E. Dickinson, M. Gharib, "The Embryonic Vertebrate Heart Tube Is a Dynamic Suction Pump," Science, vol. 312, no. 5774, pp. 751-753, 2006.


Mary E. Dickinson, Baylor College of Medicine
Kirill Larin, U. Houston

Scott E. Fraser, Caltech
Mory Gharib, Caltech
Rusty Lansford, Caltech

Julien Vermot, IGBMC, Strasbourg, France

Vladimir Korzh, STAR, Singapore


NIH 1R01HL095586-01A1

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital