Xenopus: Experimental Access to Cardiovascular Development, Regeneration Discovery, and Cardiovascular Heart-Defect Modeling

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2020 Jun 1;12(6):a037200. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a037200.


Xenopus has been used to study a wide array of developmental processes, benefiting from vast quantities of relatively large, externally developing eggs. Xenopus is particularly amenable to examining the cardiac system because many of the developmental processes and genes involved in cardiac specification, differentiation, and growth are conserved between Xenopus and human and have been characterized in detail. Furthermore, compared with other higher vertebrate models, Xenopus embryos can survive longer without a properly functioning heart or circulatory system, enabling investigation of later consequences of early embryological manipulations. This biology is complemented by experimental technology, such as embryonic explants to study the heart, microinjection of overexpression constructs, and, most recently, the generation of genetic mutations through gene-editing technologies. Recent investigations highlight Xenopus as a powerful experimental system for studying injury/repair and regeneration and for congenital heart disease (CHD) modeling, which reinforces why this model system remains ideal for studying heart development.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural