Heart conduction system: a neural crest derivative?

Brain Res. 1988 Aug 9;457(2):360-6. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(88)90707-x.


Using the anti-neurofilament monoclonal antibody iC8 we report here that muscle fibers of the conduction system of the adult and developing rabbit heart express a cytoskeletal protein antigenically and electrophoretically similar to the middle subunit of neurofilaments (NF-M). In the 11-day embryo a number of cardiac muscle cells also express a neural crest surface marker recognized by the monoclonal antibody HNK-1. Both markers are found in many cells of the 3rd and 4th branchial arches, which are populated by cells of neural crest origin. In the 11-day embryo cells of the 4th branchial arch are in close proximity to and intermingled with the atrial myocardium: cells co-expressing sarcomeric myosin heavy chain with iC8 and HNK-1 immunoreactivity are seen at these sites. The findings suggest that conduction tissue cells of the rabbit heart originate from a population of neural crest-derived cells migrating from the branchial arches into the developing heart.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Heart Conduction System / analysis*
  • Heart Conduction System / embryology
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / analysis*
  • Neural Crest / analysis*
  • Rabbits


  • Intermediate Filament Proteins