Heart formation requires complex interactions among cells from multiple embryonic origins. Recent studies have begun to reveal the genetic pathways that control cardiac morphogenesis. Many of the genes within these pathways are conserved across vast phylogenetic distances, which has allowed cardiac development to be dissected in organisms ranging from flies to mammals. Studies of cardiac development have also revealed the molecular defects underlying several congenital cardiac malformations in humans and may ultimately provide opportunities for genetic testing and intervention.
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