Zebrafish Mef2ca and Mef2cb are essential for both first and second heart field cardiomyocyte differentiation.
ABSTRACT: Mef2 transcription factors have been strongly linked with early heart development. D-mef2 is required for heart formation in Drosophila, but whether Mef2 is essential for vertebrate cardiomyocyte (CM) differentiation is unclear. In mice, although Mef2c is expressed in all CMs, targeted deletion of Mef2c causes lethal loss of second heart field (SHF) derivatives and failure of cardiac looping, but first heart field CMs can differentiate. Here we examine Mef2 function in early heart development in zebrafish. Two Mef2c genes exist in zebrafish, mef2ca and mef2cb. Both are expressed similarly in the bilateral heart fields but mef2cb is strongly expressed in the heart poles at the primitive heart tube stage. By using fish mutants for mef2ca and mef2cb and antisense morpholinos to knock down either or both Mef2cs, we show that Mef2ca and Mef2cb have essential but redundant roles in myocardial differentiation. Loss of both Mef2ca and Mef2cb function does not interfere with early cardiogenic markers such as nkx2.5, gata4 and hand2 but results in a dramatic loss of expression of sarcomeric genes and myocardial markers such as bmp4, nppa, smyd1b and late nkx2.5 mRNA. Rare residual CMs observed in mef2ca;mef2cb double mutants are ablated by a morpholino capable of knocking down other Mef2s. Mef2cb over-expression activates bmp4 within the cardiogenic region, but no ectopic CMs are formed. Surprisingly, anterior mesoderm and other tissues become skeletal muscle. Mef2ca single mutants have delayed heart development, but form an apparently normal heart. Mef2cb single mutants have a functional heart and are viable adults. Our results show that the key role of Mef2c in myocardial differentiation is conserved throughout the vertebrate heart.
Project description:Mef2 genes encode highly conserved transcription factors involved in somitic and cardiac mesoderm development in diverse bilaterians. Vertebrates have multiple mef2 genes. In mice, mef2c is required for heart and vascular development. We show that a zebrafish mef2c gene (mef2ca) is required in cranial neural crest (CNC) for proper head skeletal patterning. mef2ca mutants have head skeletal phenotypes resembling those seen upon partial loss-of-function of endothelin1 (edn1). Furthermore, mef2ca interacts genetically with edn1, arguing that mef2ca functions within the edn1 pathway. mef2ca is expressed in CNC and this expression does not require edn1 signaling. Mosaic analyses reveal that mef2ca is required in CNC for pharyngeal skeletal morphogenesis. Proper expression of many edn1-dependent target genes including hand2, bapx1, and gsc, depends upon mef2ca function. mef2ca plays a critical role in establishing the proper nested expression patterns of dlx genes. dlx5a and dlx6a, known Edn1 targets, are downregulated in mef2ca mutant pharyngeal arch CNC. Surprisingly, dlx4b and dlx3b are oppositely affected in mef2ca mutants. dlx4b expression is abolished while the edn1-dependent dlx3b is ectopically expressed in more dorsal CNC. Together our results support a model in which CNC cells require mef2ca downstream of edn1 signaling for proper craniofacial development.
Project description:To optimize the regenerative proficiency of stem cells, a cardiopoietic protein-based cocktail consisting of multiple growth factors has been developed and advanced into clinical trials for treatment of ischemic heart failure. Streamlining the inductors of cardiopoiesis would address the resource intensive nature of the current stem cell enhancement protocol. To this end, the microencapsulated-modified-mRNA (M<sup>3</sup> RNA) technique was here applied to introduce early cardiogenic genes into human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (AMSCs). A single mesodermal transcription factor, Brachyury, was sufficient to trigger high expression of cardiopoietic markers, Nkx2.5 and Mef2c. Engineered cardiopoietic stem cells (eCP) featured a transcriptome profile distinct from pre-engineered AMSCs. In?vitro, eCP demonstrated protective antioxidant capacity with enhanced superoxide dismutase expression and activity; a vasculogenic secretome driving angiogenic tube formation; and macrophage polarizing immunomodulatory properties. In?vivo, in a murine model of myocardial infarction, intramyocardial delivery of eCP (600?000 cells per heart) improved cardiac performance and protected against decompensated heart failure. Thus, heart repair competent stem cells, armed with antioxidant, vasculogenic, and immunomodulatory traits, are here engineered through a protein-independent single gene manipulation, expanding the available regenerative toolkit.
Project description:Myocardin is a muscle lineage-restricted transcriptional coactivator that has been shown to transduce extracellular signals to the nucleus required for SMC differentiation. We now report the discovery of a myocardin/BMP10 (where BMP10 indicates bone morphogenetic protein 10) signaling pathway required for cardiac growth, chamber maturation, and embryonic survival. Myocardin-null (Myocd) embryos and embryos harboring a cardiomyocyte-restricted mutation in the Myocd gene exhibited myocardial hypoplasia, defective atrial and ventricular chamber maturation, heart failure, and embryonic lethality. Cardiac hypoplasia was caused by decreased cardiomyocyte proliferation accompanied by a dramatic increase in programmed cell death. Defective chamber maturation and the block in cardiomyocyte proliferation were caused in part by a block in BMP10 signaling. Myocardin transactivated the Bmp10 gene via binding of a serum response factor-myocardin protein complex to a nonconsensus CArG element in the Bmp10 promoter. Expression of p57kip2, a BMP10-regulated cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, was induced in Myocd-/- hearts, while BMP10-activated cardiogenic transcription factors, including NKX2.5 and MEF2c, were repressed. Remarkably, when embryonic Myocd-/- hearts were cultured ex vivo in BMP10-conditioned medium, the defects in cardiomyocyte proliferation and p57kip2 expression were rescued. Taken together, these data identify a heretofore undescribed myocardin/BMP10 signaling pathway that regulates cardiomyocyte proliferation and apoptosis in the embryonic heart.
Project description:Muscle fiber size is activity-dependent and clinically important in ageing, bed-rest, and cachexia, where muscle weakening leads to disability, prolonged recovery times, and increased costs. Inactivity causes muscle wasting by triggering protein degradation and may simultaneously prevent protein synthesis. During development, muscle tissue grows by several mechanisms, including hypertrophy of existing fibers. As in other tissues, the TOR pathway plays a key role in promoting muscle protein synthesis by inhibition of eIF4EBPs (eukaryotic Initiation Factor 4E Binding Proteins), regulators of the translational initiation. Here, we tested the role of TOR-eIF4EBP in a novel zebrafish muscle inactivity model. Inactivity triggered up-regulation of eIF4EBP3L (a zebrafish homolog of eIF4EBP3) and diminished myosin and actin content, myofibrilogenesis, and fiber growth. The changes were accompanied by preferential reduction of the muscle transcription factor Mef2c, relative to Myod and Vinculin. Polysomal fractionation showed that Mef2c decrease was due to reduced translation of mef2ca mRNA. Loss of Mef2ca function reduced normal muscle growth and diminished the reduction in growth caused by inactivity. We identify eIF4EBP3L as a key regulator of Mef2c translation and protein level following inactivity; blocking eIF4EBP3L function increased Mef2ca translation. Such blockade also prevented the decline in mef2ca translation and level of Mef2c and slow myosin heavy chain proteins caused by inactivity. Conversely, overexpression of active eIF4EBP3L mimicked inactivity by decreasing the proportion of mef2ca mRNA in polysomes, the levels of Mef2c and slow myosin heavy chain, and myofibril content. Inhibiting the TOR pathway without the increase in eIF4EBP3L had a lesser effect on myofibrilogenesis and muscle size. These findings identify eIF4EBP3L as a key TOR-dependent regulator of muscle fiber size in response to activity. We suggest that by selectively inhibiting translational initiation of mef2ca and other mRNAs, eIF4EBP3L reprograms the translational profile of muscle, enabling it to adjust to new environmental conditions.
Project description:The cardiac homeobox gene Nkx2.5 plays a key and dosage-sensitive role in the differentiation of outflow tract and right ventricle from progenitors of the second heart field (SHF) and Nkx2.5 mutation is strongly associated with human outflow tract congenital heart disease (OFT CHD). Therefore defining the regulatory mechanisms controlling Nkx2.5 expression in SHF populations serves an important function in understanding the etiology of complex CHD. Through a comparative analysis of regulatory elements controlling SHF expression of Nkx2.5 in the chicken and mouse, we have found evidence that Nkx2.5 autoregulation is important for maintaining Nkx2.5 expression during SHF differentiation in both species. However the mechanism of Nkx2.5 maintenance differs between placental mammals and non-mammalian vertebrates: in chick Nkx2.5 binds directly to a genomic enhancer element that is required to maintain Nkx2.5 expression in the SHF. In addition, it is likely that this is true in other non-mammalian vertebrates given that they possess a similar genomic organization. By contrast, in placental mammals, Nkx2.5 autoregulation in the SHF functions indirectly through Mef2c. These data underscore a tight relationship in mammals between Nkx2.5 and Mef2c in SHF transcriptional regulation, and highlight the potential for evolutionary cis-regulatory analysis to identify core, conserved components of the gene networks controlling heart development.
Project description:In mammals, an array of MEF2C proteins is generated by alternative splicing (AS), yet specific functions have not been ascribed to each isoform. Teleost fish possess two MEF2C paralogues, mef2ca and mef2cb. In zebrafish, the Mef2cs function to promote cardiomyogenic differentiation and myofibrillogenesis in nascent skeletal myofibers. We found that zebrafish mef2ca and mef2cb are alternatively spliced in the coding exons 4-6 region and these splice variants differ in their biological activity. Of the two, mef2ca is more abundantly expressed in developing skeletal muscle, its activity is tuned through zebrafish development by AS. By 24hpf, we found the prevalent expression of the highly active full length protein in differentiated muscle in the somites. The splicing isoform of mef2ca that lacks exon 5 (mef2ca 4-6), encodes a protein that has 50% lower transcriptional activity, and is found mainly earlier in development, before muscle differentiation. mef2ca transcripts including exon 5 (mef2ca 4-5-6) are present early in the embryo. Over-expression of this isoform alters the expression of genes involved in early dorso-ventral patterning of the embryo such as chordin, nodal related 1 and goosecoid, and induces severe developmental defects. AS of mef2cb generates a long splicing isoform in the exon 5 region (Mef2cbL) that predominates during somitogenesis. Mef2cbL contains an evolutionarily conserved domain derived from exonization of a fragment of intron 5, which confers the ability to induce ectopic muscle in mesoderm upon over-expression of the protein. Taken together, the data show that AS is a significant regulator of Mef2c activity.
Project description:Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can potentially differentiate into any cell type, including dopaminergic neurons to treat Parkinson's disease (PD), but hyperproliferation and tumor formation must be avoided. Accordingly, we use myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C) as a neurogenic and anti-apoptotic transcription factor to generate neurons from hESC-derived neural stem/progenitor cells (NPCs), thus avoiding hyperproliferation. Here, we report that forced expression of constitutively active MEF2C (MEF2CA) generates significantly greater numbers of neurons with dopaminergic properties in vitro. Conversely, RNAi knockdown of MEF2C in NPCs decreases neuronal differentiation and dendritic length. When we inject MEF2CA-programmed NPCs into 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned parkinsonian rats in vivo, the transplanted cells survive well, differentiate into tyrosine hydroxylase-positive neurons, and improve behavioral deficits to a significantly greater degree than non-programmed cells. The enriched generation of dopaminergic neuronal lineages from hESCs by forced expression of MEF2CA in the proper context may prove valuable in cell-based therapy for CNS disorders such as PD.
Project description:The mechanisms regulating vertebrate heart and endoderm development have recently become the focus of intense study. Here we present evidence from both loss- and gain-of-function experiments that the zinc finger transcription factor Gata5 is an essential regulator of multiple aspects of heart and endoderm development. We demonstrate that zebrafish Gata5 is encoded by the faust locus. Analysis of faust mutants indicates that early in embryogenesis Gata5 is required for the production of normal numbers of developing myocardial precursors and the expression of normal levels of several myocardial genes including nkx2.5. Later, Gata5 is necessary for the elaboration of ventricular tissue. We further demonstrate that Gata5 is required for the migration of the cardiac primordia to the embryonic midline and for endodermal morphogenesis. Significantly, overexpression of gata5 induces the ectopic expression of several myocardial genes including nkx2.5 and can produce ectopic foci of beating myocardial tissue. Together, these results implicate zebrafish Gata5 in controlling the growth, morphogenesis, and differentiation of the heart and endoderm and indicate that Gata5 regulates the expression of the early myocardial gene nkx2.5.
Project description:[Briefly describe the contents of the Data in Brief article. Tell the reader the repository and reference number for the data in the abstract to.] The myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2) family of transcription factors is highly expressed in the brain, and constitutes a key determinant of neuronal survival, differentiation, and synaptic plasticity. However, genome-wide transcriptional profiling of MEF2-regulated genes has not yet been fully elucidated, particularly at the neural stem cell stage. Here we report the results of microarray analysis comparing mRNAs isolated from human neural progenitor/stem cells (hNPCs) derived from embryonic stem cells expressing a control vector versus progenitors expressing a constitutively-active form of MEF2 (MEF2CA), which increases MEF2 activity. Microarray experiments were performed using the Illumina Human HT-12 V4.0 expression beadchip (GEO#: GSE57184). By comparing vector-control cells to MEF2CA cells, microarray analysis identified 1880 unique genes that were differentially expressed. Among these genes, 1121 genes were upregulated and 759 genes were down-regulated. Our results provide a valuable resource for identifying transcriptional targets of MEF2 in hNPCs.
Project description:The transcription factors Gli2 (glioma-associated factor 2), which is a transactivator of Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signalling, and myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C) play important roles in the development of embryonic heart muscle and enhance cardiomyogenesis in stem cells. Although the physiological importance of Shh signalling and MEF2 factors in heart development is well known, the mechanistic understanding of their roles is unclear. Here, we demonstrate that Gli2 and MEF2C activated each other's expression while enhancing cardiomyogenesis in differentiating P19 EC cells. Furthermore, dominant-negative mutant proteins of either Gli2 or MEF2C repressed each other's expression, while impairing cardiomyogenesis in P19 EC cells. In addition, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) revealed association of Gli2 to the Mef2c gene, and of MEF2C to the Gli2 gene in differentiating P19 cells. Finally, co-immunoprecipitation studies showed that Gli2 and MEF2C proteins formed a complex, capable of synergizing on cardiomyogenesis-related promoters containing both Gli- and MEF2-binding elements. We propose a model whereby Gli2 and MEF2C bind each other's regulatory elements, activate each other's expression and form a protein complex that synergistically activates transcription, enhancing cardiac muscle development. This model links Shh signalling to MEF2C function during cardiomyogenesis and offers mechanistic insight into their in vivo functions.