Title: On the Biomechanics of Cardiac S-Looping in the Chick: Insights From Modeling and Perturbation Studies

Authors: Ashok Ramasubramanian, Xavier Capaldi, Sarah A. Bradner and Lianna Gangi

Abstract: Cardiac looping is an important embryonic developmental stage where the primitive heart tube (HT) twists into a configuration that more closely resembles the mature heart. Improper looping leads to congenital defects. Using the chick embryo as the experimental model, we study cardiac s-looping wherein the primitive ventricle, which lay superior to the atrium, now assumes its definitive position inferior to it. This process results in a heart loop that is no longer planar with the inflow and outflow tracts now lying in adjacent planes. We investigate the biomechanics of s-looping and use modeling to understand the nonlinear and time-variant morphogenetic shape changes. We developed physical and finite element models and validated the models using perturbation studies. The results from experiments and models show how force actuators such as bending of the embryonic dorsal wall (cervical flexure), rotation around the body axis (embryo torsion), and HT growth interact to produce the heart loop. Using model-based and experimental data, we present an improved hypothesis for early cardiac s-looping.