The structure and function of the circulatory system, including the heart, have undergone substantial changes with the vertebrate evolution. Although the basic function of the heart is to pump blood through the body, its size, shape, speed, regeneration capacity, etc. vary considerably across species. Here, we address the differences among vertebrate hearts using a single-cell transcriptomics approach. Published datasets of macaque (Macaca fascicularis), mouse, and zebrafish hearts were integrated and compared to the human heart as a reference. While the three mammalian hearts integrated well, the zebrafish heart showed very little overlap with the other species. Our analysis revealed a mouse-specific cell subpopulation of ventricular cardiomyocytes (CM), represented by strikingly different expression patterns of specific genes related to high-energy metabolism. Interestingly, the observed differences between mouse and human CM coincided with actual biological differences between the two species. Smooth muscle and endothelial cells (EC) exhibited species-specific differences in clustering and gene expression, respectively, which we attribute to the tissues selected for sequencing, given different focuses of the original studies. Finally, we compared human and zebrafish heart-specific fibroblasts (FB) and identified a distinctively high expression of genes associated with heart regeneration following injury in zebrafish. Together, our results show that integration of numerous datasets of different species and different sequencing technologies is feasible and that this approach can identify species-specific differences and similarities in the heart.
Research Areas and Centers
- Research Area: Medical Genetics