Which of the following processes places the developing heart in the presumptive thoracic region cranial to the septum transversum?
5.Fusion of the endocardial heart tubes
Cranial folding is responsible for the placement of the developing heart in the presumptive thoracic region of the embryo. Initially, the developing cranial portion of the neural tube lies dorsal and caudal to the oropharyngeal membrane. However, overgrowth of the forebrain causes it to extend past the oropharyngeal membrane and overhang the cardiogenic area. Subsequent growth of the forebrain pushes the developing heart ventrally and caudally to a position in the presumptive thoracic region caudal to the oropharyngeal membrane and cranial to the septum transversum that will form the central tendon of the diaphragm. Gastrulation (answer a) is the process by which epiblast cells migrate to the primitive streak and become internalized to form the mesodermal and endodermal germ layers. Lateral folding (answer b) of the embryo forms the endoderm tube and surrounding concentric layering of mesoderm and ectoderm. Neurulation refers to formation of the neural tube from surface ectoderm (answer d). The fusion of the two endocardial heart tubes (answer e) occurs as lateral folding occurs. The fused tube will form the endocardium surrounded by the primordial myocardium derived from splanchnic mesoderm that will form the heart muscle (myocardium).