The cardiac conduction system (CCS) is a network of cells responsible for the rhythmic and coordinated excitation of the heart. Components of the murine conduction system, including the peripheral Purkinje fibres, are morphologically indistinguishable from surrounding cardiomyocytes and there exists a paucity of molecular markers to specifically identify these cells. Recently, we identified a line of transgenic mice in which the lacZ reporter gene is expressed within the embryonic CCS beginning at 8.25 days post-conception (dpc); its expression appears to delineate the full extent of the CCS, including the distal Purkinje fibre network, throughout all subsequent stages of development. Moreover, using the highly sensitive technique of optical mapping of electrical activity in embryonic murine hearts, we provided evidence for functional specialization of components of the CCS as early as 10.5 dpc. Here, we summarize these findings and describe our initial efforts utilizing the CCS-lacZ mice to identify novel factors that promote CCS specialization.
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||Novartis Foundation symposium|
|State||Published - Dec 1 2003|