Analysis of experiments aimed at understanding the genetic mechanisms of differentiation and growth of the heart, calls for detailed insights into cardiac growth and proliferation rate of myocytes and their precursors. Such insights in mouse heart development are currently lacking. We quantitatively assessed the 3D patterns of proliferation in the forming mouse heart and in the adjacent splanchnic mesoderm, from the onset of heart formation till the developed heart at late gestation. These results are presented in an interactive portable document format (Suppl. PDF) to facilitate communication and understanding. We show that the mouse splanchnic mesoderm is highly proliferative, and that the proliferation rate drops upon recruitment of cells into the cardiac lineage. Concomitantly, the proliferation rate locally increases at the sites of chamber formation, generating a regionalized proliferation pattern. Quantitative analysis shows a gradual decrease in proliferation rate of the ventricular walls with progression of development, and a base-to-top decline in proliferation rate in the trabecules. Our data offers clear insights into the growth and morphogenesis of the mouse heart and shows that in early development the phases of tube formation and chamber formation overlap. The resulting interactive quantitative 3D atlas of cardiac growth and morphogenesis provides a resource for interpretation of mechanistic studies.
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