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The heterogeneity of functional cardiomyocytes arises during heart development, which is essential to the complex and highly coordinated cardiac physiological function. Yet the biological and physiological identities and the origin of the specialized cardiomyocyte populations have not been fully comprehended. Here we report a previously unrecognised population of cardiomyocytes expressing Dbhgene encoding dopamine beta-hydroxylase in murine heart. We determined how these myocytes are distributed across the heart by utilising advanced single-cell and spatial transcriptomic analyses, genetic fate mapping and molecular imaging with computational reconstruction. We demonstrated that they form the key functional components of the cardiac conduction system by using optogenetic electrophysiology and conditional cardiomyocyte Dbh gene deletion models. We revealed their close relationship with sympathetic innervation during cardiac conduction system formation. Our study thus provides new insights into the development and heterogeneity of the mammalian cardiac conduction system by revealing a new cardiomyocyte population with potential catecholaminergic endocrine function.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Mice, Animals, Myocytes, Cardiac, Heart, Heart Conduction System, Mammals, Gene Expression Profiling, Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase