Our goal here is to set out the types of unitary decisions made by heart progenitor cells, from their appearance in the heart field until they form the simple heart tube. This provides a context to evaluate cell fate, lineage and, finally, morphogenetic decisions that configure global heart form and function. Some paradigms for cellular differentiation and for pattern generation may be borrowed from invertebrates, but neither Drosophila nor Caenorhabditis elegans suffice to unravel higher order decisions. Genetic analyses in mouse and zebrafish may provide one entrance to these pathways.

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