The Drosophila heart is a simple organ composed of two major cell types: cardioblasts, which form the simple contractile tube of the heart, and pericardial cells, which flank the cardioblasts. A complete understanding of Drosophila heart development requires the identification of all cell types that comprise the heart and the elucidation of the cellular and genetic mechanisms that regulate the development of these cells. Here, we report the identification of a new population of heart cells: the Odd skipped-positive pericardial cells (Odd-pericardial cells). We have used descriptive, lineage tracing and genetic assays to clarify the cellular and genetic mechanisms that control the development of Odd-pericardial cells. Odd skipped marks a population of four pericardial cells per hemisegment that are distinct from previously identified heart cells. We demonstrate that within a hemisegment, Odd-pericardial cells develop from three heart progenitors and that these heart progenitors arise in multiple anteroposterior locations within the dorsal mesoderm. Two of these progenitors divide asymmetrically such that each produces a two-cell mixed-lineage clone of one Odd-pericardial cell and one cardioblast. The third progenitor divides symmetrically to produce two Odd-pericardial cells. All remaining cardioblasts in a hemisegment arise from two cardioblast progenitors each of which produces two cardioblasts. Furthermore, we demonstrate that numb and sanpodo mediate the asymmetric divisions of the two mixed-lineage heart progenitors noted above.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4959-4969
Number of pages11
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2000


  • Drosophila
  • Heart
  • Odd-skipped


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