Bone morphogentic proteins (BMPs) play an important role in cardiac development. Using an in vitro explant analysis, we show that BMPs are crucial for myocardium formation. As a first approach to identify which BMP may be involved in myocardium formation in intra- and extracardiac mesenchyme in vivo, a survey of the expression patterns of BMP2, -4, -5, -6, and -7 mRNA is prepared by in situ hybridization in chicken embryonic hearts from HH5 to 44. During recruitment of mesodermal cells to the outflow tract myocardium (HH10-23), BMP2, -4, -5, and -7 mRNA are expressed in the distal myocardial border and the flanking mesenchyme. After completion, BMP2 and -4 mRNA become restricted to the mesenchyme and BMP5 and -7 mRNA to the myocardium. At the venous pole, BMP2, -5, and -7 mRNA are expressed in the distal myocardial border of the caval vein, while BMP2, -5, -6, and -7 mRNA are expressed in the distal myocardium around the pulmonary vein. BMP4 mRNA is expressed in the adjacent mesenchyme at both sides. During muscularization of the atrioventricular cushions and the tricuspid valve, the cardiomyocytes that protrude into the mesenchyme express BMP2, -4, -5, and -7 mRNA, whereas BMP6 mRNA is expressed in the cushion mesenchyme. The myocardial protrusions formed in the mesenchymal proximal outlet septum express BMP4, -5, and -7 mRNA, while BMP2 and -6 mRNA are expressed in the mesenchyme. The spatiotemporal expression patterns of these BMPs in relation to myocardium formation at the distal ends and within the heart suggest a role for BMPs in myocardium formation. During delamination of the valves, BMP4 and -6 mRNA are expressed at the ventricular side of the forming mitral valve, BMP4 mRNA at the ventricular side of the forming tricuspid valve, and BMP2, -4, and -6 mRNA at the vascular side of the forming semilunar valves.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.