Development

Close to the Heart

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Science  07 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5574, pp. 1769
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5574.1769a

The outermost layer of cells in the heart is known as the epicardium. The epicardium develops from progenitor cells that originate in a structure called the proepicardial serosa. These progenitor cells migrate to the heart either through direct physical contact between the myocardium and the proepicardial serosa or as cellular aggregates or cysts that transit the pericardial cavity. The arriving cells then attach to the myocardium and spread across the surface, eventually forming a continuous layer that later gives rise to the coronary vessels. Sengbusch et al. show that the cell adhesion protein, integrin α4β1, is a key player in the initial migration and long-term attachment of epicardial progenitor cells to the developing heart. Mice engineered to lack the α4 subunit of this integrin produced considerably fewer proepicardial cysts, and those that did reach the myocardium did not spread out to form an epithelial sheet. — SMH

J. Cell Biol. 157, 873 (2002).

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