Initial characterization of Wnt-Tcf functions during Ciona heart development

Nicole A. Kaplan, Wei Wang, Lionel Christiaen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In vertebrate embryos, the cardiopharyngeal mesoderm gives rise to both cardiac and branchiomeric head muscles. The canonical Wnt signaling pathway regulates many aspects of cardiomyocyte specification, and modulates a balance between skeletal and cardiac myogenesis during vertebrate head muscle development. However, the role of Wnt signaling during ascidian cardiopharyngeal development remains elusive. Here, we documented the expression of Wnt pathway components during cardiopharyngeal development in Ciona, and generated tools to investigate potential roles for Wnt signaling, and its transcriptional effector Tcf, on heart vs. pharyngeal muscle fate specification. Neither focused functional analyses nor lineage-specific transcriptome profiling uncovered a significant role for Tcf during early cardiac vs. pharyngeal muscle fate choice. By contrast, Wnt gene expression patterns of Frizzled4 and Lrp4/8 and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated Tcf knock-down suggested a later requirement for Wnt signaling during heart morphogenesis and/or cardiomyocyte differentiation. This study provides a provisional set of reagents to study Wnt signaling function in Ciona, and promising insights for future analyses of Wnt functions during heart organogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-209
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Initial characterization of Wnt-Tcf functions during Ciona heart development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this