Morphological and molecular left-right asymmetries in the development of the proepicardium: a comparative analysis on mouse and chick embryos

Dev Dyn. 2007 Mar;236(3):684-95. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.21065.


The proepicardium (PE) is an embryonic progenitor cell population that delivers the epicardium, the majority of the cardiac interstitium, and the coronary vasculature. In the present study, we compared PE development in mouse and chick embryos. In the mouse, a left and a right PE anlage appear simultaneously, which subsequently merge at the embryonic midline to form a single PE. In chick embryos, the right PE anlage appears earlier than the left and only the right anlage acquires the full PE-phenotype. The left anlage remains in a rudimentary state. The expression patterns of PE marker genes (Tbx18, Wt1) correspond to the morphological data, being bilateral in the mouse and unilateral in the chick. Bmp4, which is unilaterally expressed in the right PE of chick embryos, is symmetrically expressed in the sinus venosus wall cranial to the PE in mouse embryos. Asymmetric development of the chicken PE might reflect side-specific differences in topographical relationships to tissues with PE-inducing or repressing activity or might result from the PE-repressing activity of the right PE, which grows earlier. To test these hypotheses, we analyzed PE development in chick embryos, firstly, subsequent to experimentally induced inversion of PE topographical relationships to neighbouring tissues; secondly, in organ cultures; and, thirdly, subsequent to induction of cardia bifida. In all three experiments, only the right PE develops the full PE phenotype. Our results suggest that PE development might be controlled by the L-R pathway in the chick but not in the mouse embryo.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • Chick Embryo
  • Embryo, Mammalian / embryology*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Heart / embryology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Pericardium / embryology*
  • Pericardium / metabolism
  • Pericardium / ultrastructure
  • Pregnancy
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / genetics
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • Bmp2 protein, mouse
  • Bmp4 protein, mouse
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • Tbx18 protein, chicken
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta