Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Lidia Kos

Abstract

The heart beat is regulated by the cardiac conduction system (CCS), a specialized group of cells that transmit electrical impulses around the heart chambers. During development, ventricular CCS cells originate from embryonic cardiomyocytes and not from the neural crest. Nonetheless, discoveries in chick implied that the cardiac neural crest (CNC) cells contribute to proper development of the ventricular CCS. In this report, the Splotch mouse mutant (Pax3sp), in which the CNC cells do not migrate to the heart, was used to investigate whether these cells also affect proper CCS development in mammals. Homozygote mutants (Pax3Sp!Sp) are lethal on 111 Embryonic Day 13 (E13), and can be phenotyped by spina bifida and exencephaly. Pax3Spi+ mice were crossed to obtain wild type, Pax3 Spi+ and Pax3 Sp!Sp embryos. Comparison of hematoxylin and eosin stained histological sections showed less trabeculation in El2.5 cardiac ventricles of Pax3Sp!Sp. Furthermore, immunofluorescence analysis with the Purkinje fiber marker Cx40 showed a qualitative difference between wild type and mutant hearts. Quantitative analysis indicated that Pax3 Sp!Sp ventricles had fewer Cx40 expressing cells, as well as less Cx40 being expressed per cell when compared to wild type ventricles. Immunofluorescence with the H3 histome mitosis antibody showed fewer proliferating cells in the ventricles of mutant embryos when compared to controls. These results suggest that CNCC affect the morphogenesis of cardiac ventricles and the development of the ventricular CCS by contributing cellular proliferation.

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