Single-Cell Transcriptome Analysis Maps the Developmental Track of the Human Heart

Cell Rep. 2019 Feb 12;26(7):1934-1950.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.01.079.


The heart is the central organ of the circulatory system, and its proper development is vital for maintaining human life. Here, we used single-cell RNA sequencing to profile the gene expression landscapes of ∼4,000 cardiac cells from human embryos and identified four major types of cells: cardiomyocytes (CMs), cardiac fibroblasts, endothelial cells (ECs), and valvar interstitial cells (VICs). Atrial and ventricular CMs acquired distinct features early in heart development. Furthermore, both CMs and fibroblasts show stepwise changes in gene expression. As development proceeds, VICs may be involved in the remodeling phase, and ECs display location-specific characteristics. Finally, we compared gene expression profiles between humans and mice and identified a series of unique features of human heart development. Our study lays the groundwork for elucidating the mechanisms of in vivo human cardiac development and provides potential clues to understand cardiac regeneration.

Keywords: cardiac fibroblasts; cardiomyocytes; cross-species comparison; endothelial cells; extracellular matrix; human embryonic development; human fetal heart development; single-cell RNA-seq; single-cell transcriptome analysis; valvar interstitial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Transcriptome / genetics*