Conserved chamber-specific polyploidy maintains heart function in Drosophila.


Developmentally programmed polyploidy (whole-genome duplication) of cardiomyocytes is common across evolution. Functions of such polyploidy are essentially unknown. Here, in both Drosophila larvae and human organ donors, we reveal distinct polyploidy levels in cardiac organ chambers. In Drosophila, differential growth and cell cycle signal sensitivity leads the heart chamber to reach a higher ploidy/cell size relative to the aorta chamber. Cardiac ploidy-reduced animals exhibit reduced heart chamber size, stroke volume and cardiac output, and acceleration of circulating hemocytes. These Drosophila phenotypes mimic human cardiomyopathies. Our results identify productive and likely conserved roles for polyploidy in cardiac chambers and suggest that precise ploidy levels sculpt many developing tissues. These findings of productive cardiomyocyte polyploidy impact efforts to block developmental polyploidy to improve heart injury recovery.