Lymph heart in chick - somitic origin, development and embryonic oedema
Valasek, P., Macharia, R., Neuhuber, W. L., Wilting, J., Becker, D. L. and Patel, K. (2007) Lymph heart in chick - somitic origin, development and embryonic oedema. Development, 134 (24). pp. 4427-4436. ISSN 0950-1991
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1242/dev.004697
The lymph heart is a sac-like structure on either side of avian tail. In some adult birds, it empties the lymph from the copulatory organ; however, during embryonic development, it is thought to circulate extra-embryonic lymph. Very little is known about the origin, innervation and the cellular changes it undergoes during development. Using immunohistochemistry and gene expression profiling we show that the musculature of the lymph heart is initially composed solely of striated skeletal muscle but later develops an additional layer composed of smooth myofibroblasts. Chick-quail fate-mapping demonstrates that the lymph heart originates from the hypaxial compartments of somites 34-41. The embryonic lymph heart is transiently innervated by somatic motoneurons with no autonomic input. In comparison to body muscles, the lymph heart has different sensitivity to neuromuscular junction blockers (sensitive only to decamethonium). Furthermore, its abundant bungarotoxin-positive acetylcholinesterase receptors are unique as they completely lack specific acetylcholinesterase activity. Several lines of evidence suggest that the lymph heart may possess an intrinsic pacing mechanism. Finally, we assessed the function of the lymph heart during embryogenesis and demonstrate that it is responsible for preventing embryonic oedema in birds, a role previously thought to be played by body skeletal muscle contractions.