Heart Development

The four-chambered mammalian heart develops from two fields of cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) distinguished by their spatiotemporal patterns of differentiation and contributions to the mature heart. The first heart field (FHF) differentiates earlier in lateral plate mesoderm, generates the linear heart tube, and ultimately gives rise to the left ventricle. The second heart field (SHF) differentiates later in pharyngeal mesoderm, elongates the heart tube, and gives rise to much of the right ventricle and outflow tract (OFT). We have demonstrated that the zebrafish heart develops in a similar way to the mammalian heart - from both FHF and SHF progenitors - despite the zebrafish heart being comprised of a single ventricular chamber.


Current Projects in the Burns Lab include:

  • Cardiovascular Progenitor Cell Biology:  We have identified independent trajectories taken by SHF ventricular and OFT progenitors during zebrafish heart morphogenesis. We are interested in understanding the genetic mechanisms that regulate development of each progenitor subpopulation.  

  • Heart Function:  We are interested in identifying conserved regulators of heart function in zebrafish and moving these findings forward into mouse and human iPS models.