Key words Lithium chloride
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The molecular signalling mechanisms that are believed to govern the patterning of the heart early in embryonic development are not well understood. We have investigated the events which occur during patterning of the vertebrate heart by exposing gastrula stage zebrafish embryos to lithium, which is known to affect the phosphoinositol signalling pathway. Treatment of embryos at 50% epiboly (5.25 h after fertilization at 28.5°C) with 0.3 m LiCl for 5–15 min, results in embryos with defects which range from mild to severe, depending on the length of time the embryos are exposed to lithium. In the heart, defects appear progressively in the inflow tract, the sinus venosus and atrium. By using an antibody that recognizes an atrium-specific isoform of myosin, our results show that lithium treatment at gastrulation specifically affects the atrium and sinus venosus, and has little obvious effect on the ventricle. Defects induced by lithium differ from those induced by retinoic acid (RA) treatment of similarly staged embryos, and suggest that lithium and RA may affect the patterning signals important for establishment of the vertebrate heart by acting on different populations of cells or by influencing different patterning pathways.
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