- A. Klaus
- W. Birchmeier
- Pediatric Cardiology
- Pediatr Cardiol 30 (5): 609-616
The tight regulation of different signaling systems and the transcriptional and translational networks during embryonic development have been the focus of embryologists in recent decades. Defective developmental signaling due to genetic mutation or temporal and region-specific alteration of gene expression causes embryonic lethality or accounts for birth defects (e.g., congenital heart disease). The formation of the heart requires the coordinated integration of multiple cardiac progenitor cell populations derived from the first and second heart fields and from cardiac neural crest cells. This article summarizes what has been learned from conditional mutagenesis of Bmp pathway components and the Wnt effector, beta-catenin, in the developing heart of mice. Although Bmp signaling is required for cardiac progenitor cell specification, proliferation, and differentiation, recent studies have demonstrated distinct functions of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling at various stages of heart development.