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J. Cell Biol. 182 (2): 221-223

Copyright © 2008 by the Rockefeller University Press.


The first "Slit" is the deepest: the secret to a hollow heart

Iiro Taneli Helenius, and Greg J. Beitel

Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208

Correspondence to Greg J. Beitel: beitel{at}

Abstract: Tubular organs are essential for life, but lumen formation in nonepithelial tissues such as the vascular system or heart is poorly understood. Two studies in this issue (Medioni, C., M. Astier, M. Zmojdzian, K. Jagla, and M. Sémériva. 2008. J. Cell Biol. 182:249–261; Santiago-Martínez, E., N.H. Soplop, R. Patel, and S.G. Kramer. 2008. J. Cell Biol. 182:241–248) reveal unexpected roles for the Slit–Robo signaling system during Drosophila melanogaster heart morphogenesis. In cardioblasts, Slit and Robo modulate the cell shape changes and domains of E-cadherin–based adhesion that drive lumen formation. Furthermore, in contrast to the well-known paracrine role of Slit and Robo in guiding cell migrations, here Slit and Robo may act by autocrine signaling. In addition, the two groups demonstrate that heart lumen formation is even more distinct from typical epithelial tubulogenesis mechanisms because the heart lumen is bounded by membrane surfaces that have basal rather than apical attributes. As the D. melanogaster cardioblasts are thought to have significant evolutionary similarity to vertebrate endothelial and cardiac lineages, these findings are likely to provide insights into mechanisms of vertebrate heart and vascular morphogenesis.

© 2008 Helenius and Beitel This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, as described at

Involvement of the SLIT/ROBO pathway in follicle development in the fetal ovary.
R. E Dickinson, L. Hryhorskyj, H. Tremewan, K. Hogg, A. A Thomson, A. S McNeilly, and W C. Duncan (2010)
Reproduction 139, 395-407
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