Regionalized transcriptional domains of myosin light chain 3f transgenes in the embryonic mouse heart: morphogenetic implications

Dev Biol. 1997 Aug 1;188(1):17-33. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1997.8622.


Within the embryonic heart, five segments can be distinguished: two fast-conducting atrial and ventricular compartments flanked by slow-conducting segments, the inflow tract, the atrioventricular canal, and the outflow tract. These compartments assume morphological identity as a result of looping of the linear heart tube. Subsequently, the formation of interatrial, interventricular, and outflow tract septa generates a four-chambered heart. The lack of markers that distinguish right and left compartments within the heart has prevented a precise understanding of these processes. Transgenic mice carrying an nlacZ reporter gene under transcriptional control of regulatory sequences from the MLC1F/3F gene provide specific markers to investigate such regionalization. Our results show that transgene expression is restricted to distinct regions of the myocardium: beta-galactosidase activity in 3F-nlacZ-2E mice is confined predominantly to the embryonic right atrium, atrioventricular canal, and left ventricle, whereas, in 3F-nlacZ-9 mice, the transgene is expressed in both atrial and ventricular segments (right/left) and in the atrioventricular canal, but not in the inflow and outflow tracts. These lines of mice illustrate that distinct embryonic cardiac regions have different transcriptional specificities and provide early markers of myocardial subdivisions. Regional differences in transgene expression are not detected in the linear heart tube but become apparent as the heart begins to loop. Subsequent regionalization of transgene expression provides new insights into later morphogenetic events, including the development of the atrioventricular canal and the fate of the outflow tract.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Heart / embryology*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lac Operon / genetics
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Morphogenesis
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Myosin Light Chains / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Transgenes
  • beta-Galactosidase / biosynthesis


  • Myosin Light Chains
  • beta-Galactosidase