Pestel, J., Ramadass, R., Gauvrit, S., Helker, C., Herzog, W., Stainier, D.Y. (2016) Real-time 3D visualization of cellular rearrangements during cardiac valve formation. Development (Cambridge, England). 143:2217-27.
During cardiac valve development, the single-layered endocardial sheet at the atrioventricular canal (AVC) is remodeled into multilayered immature valve leaflets. Most of our knowledge about this process comes from examining fixed samples that do not allow a real-time appreciation of the intricacies of valve formation. Here, we exploit non-invasive in vivo imaging techniques to identify the dynamic cell behaviors that lead to the formation of the immature valve leaflets. We find that in zebrafish, the valve leaflets consist of two sets of endocardial cells at the luminal and abluminal side, which we refer to as luminal cells (LCs) and abluminal cells (ALCs), respectively. By analyzing cellular rearrangements during valve formation, we observed that the LCs and ALCs originate from the atrium and ventricle, respectively. Furthermore, we utilized Wnt/β-catenin and Notch signaling reporter lines to distinguish between the LCs and ALCs, and also found that cardiac contractility and/or blood flow is necessary for the endocardial expression of these signaling reporters. Thus, our 3D analyses of cardiac valve formation in zebrafish provide fundamental insights into the cellular rearrangements underlying this process.