Twisting of the zebrafish heart tube during cardiac looping is a tbx5-dependent and tissue-intrinsic process

Federico Tessadori, Erika Tsingos, Enrico Sandro Colizzi, Fabian Kruse, Susanne C van den Brink, Malou van den Boogaard, Vincent M Christoffels, Roeland Mh Merks, Jeroen Bakkers

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Organ laterality refers to the left-right asymmetry in disposition and conformation of internal organs and is established during embryogenesis. The heart is the first organ to display visible left-right asymmetries through its left-sided positioning and rightward looping. Here, we present a new zebrafish loss-of-function allele for tbx5a, which displays defective rightward cardiac looping morphogenesis. By mapping individual cardiomyocyte behavior during cardiac looping, we establish that ventricular and atrial cardiomyocytes rearrange in distinct directions. As a consequence, the cardiac chambers twist around the atrioventricular canal resulting in torsion of the heart tube, which is compromised in tbx5a mutants. Pharmacological treatment and ex vivo culture establishes that the cardiac twisting depends on intrinsic mechanisms and is independent from cardiac growth. Furthermore, genetic experiments indicate that looping requires proper tissue patterning. We conclude that cardiac looping involves twisting of the chambers around the atrioventricular canal, which requires correct tissue patterning by Tbx5a.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2021


  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian/embryology
  • Heart/embryology
  • Organogenesis/genetics
  • Transcription Factors/genetics
  • Zebrafish/embryology
  • Zebrafish Proteins/genetics


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