Date of Award

2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

Abstract

Neural crest cells originate from the dorsal most region of the embryonic neural tube. These cells migrate into several embryonic locations and differentiate into a variety of cell types. Cardiac neural crest (CNC) cells are a set of neural crest progenitors that aid in the proper formation of the cardiac septum, which separates the pulmonary from the systemic circulation. We have used Splotch mice to investigate whether the murine CNC cells play a role during the development oft he myocardium and the conduction system. Splotch mice carry a mutation in the P AX3 transcription factor, and display a problem in CNC cell migration. A scanning-electron-microscopy analysis of Splotch mutant-embryonic-hearts reveals abnormalities in the interventricular septum. In addition, the right and left ventricular cavities appear dilated relative to a wild type heart. Hoechst nuclei staining of Splotch heart cryosections demonstrates a decreased number of cardiomyocytes and a corresponding thinner ventricular wall. The absence of Connexin 40 in the ventricles of Splotch mutants, suggests conduction system defects. These results support the evidence that CNC cell signaling plays a role in modulating the growth and development of murine cardiomyocytes and their differentiation into conductile cells.

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