Scientists have studied organs and their development for centuries and, along that path, described models and mechanisms explaining the developmental principles of organogenesis. In particular, with respect to the heart, new fundamental discoveries are reported continuously that keep changing the way we think about early cardiac development. These discoveries are driven by the need to answer long-standing questions regarding the origin of the earliest cells specified to the cardiac lineage, the differentiation potential of distinct cardiac progenitor cells, and, very importantly, the molecular mechanisms underlying these specification events. As evidenced by numerous examples, the wealth of developmental knowledge collected over the years has had an invaluable impact on establishing efficient strategies to generate cardiovascular cell types ex vivo, from either pluripotent stem cells or via direct reprogramming approaches. The ability to generate functional cardiovascular cells in an efficient and reliable manner will contribute to therapeutic strategies aimed at alleviating the increasing burden of cardiovascular disease and morbidity. Here we will discuss the recent discoveries in the field of cardiac progenitor biology and their translation to the pluripotent stem cell model to illustrate how developmental concepts have instructed regenerative model systems in the past and promise to do so in the future. Developmental Dynamics 245:1130-1144, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Keywords: cardiac maturation; cardiac mesoderm; cardiac progenitor; cell fate specification; conduction system; disease modelling; epicardium; gastrulation; pluripotent stem cells.
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.