Shape of my heart: Cell-cell adhesion and cytoskeletal dynamics duringDrosophilacardiac morphogenesis
The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has recently emerged as an excellent system to investigate the genetics of cardiovascular development and disease. Drosophila provides an inexpensive and genetically-tractable in vivo system with a large number of conserved features. In addition, the Drosophila embryo is transparent, and thus amenable to time-lapse fluorescence microscopy, as well as biophysical and pharmacological manipulations. One of the conserved aspects of heart development from Drosophila to humans is the initial assembly of a tube. Here, we review the cellular behaviours and molecular dynamics important for the initial steps of heart morphogenesis in Drosophila, with particular emphasis on the cell-cell adhesion and cytoskeletal networks that cardiac precursors use to move, coordinate their migration, interact with other tissues and eventually sculpt a beating heart.