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The first heart beat: initiation of cardiac contractile activity

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I will discuss recent unpublished work from my group looking at the earliest contractile activity during mammalian embryogenesis. We find that the developing heart starts to beat already at the cardiac crescent stage, considerably earlier than the linear heart tube stage as widely believed. We find foci of contractile activity on the right and left sides of the cardiac crescent that beat at the same frequency even when separated by non-contractile tissue. I will describe our efforts to understand how the embryonic heart start to beat using calcium imaging, inhibitors of channel activity, atomic force microscopy and comparative embryology.

This talk is part of the Foster Talks series.

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