Congenital heart defects affect nearly 1% of all newborns and are a significant cause of infant death. Clinical studies have identified a number of congenital heart syndromes associated with mutations in genes that are involved in the complex process of cardiogenesis. The African clawed frog, Xenopus, has been instrumental in studies of vertebrate heart development and provides a valuable tool to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying human congenital heart diseases. In this review, we discuss the methodologies that make Xenopus an ideal model system to investigate heart development and disease. We also outline congenital heart conditions linked to cardiac genes that have been well studied in Xenopus and describe some emerging technologies that will further aid in the study of these complex syndromes.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.