On the mechanics of cardiac function of Drosophila embryo

PLoS One. 2008;3(12):e4045. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004045. Epub 2008 Dec 24.


The heart is a vital organ that provides essential circulation throughout the body. Malfunction of cardiac pumping, thus, leads to serious and most of the times, to fatal diseases. Mechanics of cardiac pumping is a complex process, and many experimental and theoretical approaches have been undertaken to understand this process. We have taken advantage of the simplicity of the embryonic heart of an invertebrate, Drosophila melanogaster, to understand the fundamental mechanics of the beating heart. We applied a live imaging technique to the beating embryonic heart combined with analytical imaging tools to study the dynamic mechanics of the pumping. Furthermore, we have identified one mutant line that exhibits aberrant pumping mechanics. The Drosophila embryonic heart consists of only 104 cardiac cells forming a simple straight tube that can be easily accessed for real-time imaging. Therefore, combined with the wealth of available genetic tools, the embryonic Drosophila heart may serve as a powerful model system for studies of human heart diseases, such as arrhythmia and congenital heart diseases. We, furthermore, believe our mechanistic data provides important information that is useful for our further understanding of the design of biological structure and function and for engineering the pumps for medical uses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Heart / anatomy & histology
  • Heart / embryology*
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / embryology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / genetics
  • Heart Valves / embryology
  • Heart Valves / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Organ Size / genetics
  • Periodicity
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor / genetics
  • Time Factors


  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor