The Drosophila heart, composed of discrete subsets of cardioblasts and pericardial cells, undergoes Hox-triggered anterior-posterior morphogenesis, leading to a functional subdivision into heart proper and aorta, with its most anterior part forming a funnel-shaped cardiac outflow. Cardioblasts differentiate into Tin-positive 'working myocytes' and Svp-expressing ostial cells. However, developmental fates and functions of heart-associated pericardial cells remain elusive. Here, we show that the pericardial cells that express the transcription factor Even Skipped adopt distinct fates along the anterior-posterior axis. Among them, the most anterior Antp-Ubx-AbdA-negative cells form a novel cardiac outflow component we call the outflow hanging structure, whereas the Antp-expressing cells differentiate into wing heart precursors. Interestingly, Hox gene expression in the Even Skipped-positive cells not only underlies their antero-posterior diversification, but also influences heart morphogenesis in a non-cell-autonomous way. In brief, we identify a new cardiac outflow component derived from a subset of Even Skipped-expressing cells that stabilises the anterior heart tip, and demonstrate non-cell-autonomous effects of Hox gene expression in the Even Skipped-positive cells on heart morphogenesis.
Keywords: Drosophila; Heart; Hox genes; Pericardial cell.
© 2018. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.