Gata4 regulates hedgehog signaling and Gata6 expression for outflow tract development.
ABSTRACT: Dominant mutations of Gata4, an essential cardiogenic transcription factor (TF), were known to cause outflow tract (OFT) defects in both human and mouse, but the underlying molecular mechanism was not clear. In this study, Gata4 haploinsufficiency in mice was found to result in OFT defects including double outlet right ventricle (DORV) and ventricular septum defects (VSDs). Gata4 was shown to be required for Hedgehog (Hh)-receiving progenitors within the second heart field (SHF) for normal OFT alignment. Restored cell proliferation in the SHF by knocking-down Pten failed to rescue OFT defects, suggesting that additional cell events under Gata4 regulation is important. SHF Hh-receiving cells failed to migrate properly into the proximal OFT cushion, which is associated with abnormal EMT and cell proliferation in Gata4 haploinsufficiency. The genetic interaction of Hh signaling and Gata4 is further demonstrated to be important for OFT development. Gata4 and Smo double heterozygotes displayed more severe OFT abnormalities including persistent truncus arteriosus (PTA). Restoration of Hedgehog signaling renormalized SHF cell proliferation and migration, and rescued OFT defects in Gata4 haploinsufficiency. In addition, there was enhanced Gata6 expression in the SHF of the Gata4 heterozygotes. The Gata4-responsive repressive sites were identified within 1kbp upstream of the transcription start site of Gata6 by both ChIP-qPCR and luciferase reporter assay. These results suggested a SHF regulatory network comprising of Gata4, Gata6 and Hh-signaling for OFT development.
Project description:GATA4, an essential cardiogenic transcription factor, provides a model for dominant transcription factor mutations in human disease. Dominant GATA4 mutations cause congenital heart disease (CHD), specifically atrial and atrioventricular septal defects (ASDs and AVSDs). We found that second heart field (SHF)-specific Gata4 heterozygote embryos recapitulated the AVSDs observed in germline Gata4 heterozygote embryos. A proliferation defect of SHF atrial septum progenitors and hypoplasia of the dorsal mesenchymal protrusion, rather than anlage of the atrioventricular septum, were observed in this model. Knockdown of the cell-cycle repressor phosphatase and tensin homolog (Pten) restored cell-cycle progression and rescued the AVSDs. Gata4 mutants also demonstrated Hedgehog (Hh) signaling defects. Gata4 acts directly upstream of Hh components: Gata4 activated a cis-regulatory element at Gli1 in vitro and occupied the element in vivo. Remarkably, SHF-specific constitutive Hh signaling activation rescued AVSDs in Gata4 SHF-specific heterozygous knockout embryos. Pten expression was unchanged in Smoothened mutants, and Hh pathway genes were unchanged in Pten mutants, suggesting pathway independence. Thus, both the cell-cycle and Hh-signaling defects caused by dominant Gata4 mutations were required for CHD pathogenesis, suggesting a combinatorial model of disease causation by transcription factor haploinsufficiency.
Project description:The developmental mechanisms underlying human congenital heart disease (CHD) are poorly understood. Atrial septal defects (ASDs) can result from haploinsufficiency of cardiogenic transcription factors including TBX5. We demonstrated that Tbx5 is required in the second heart field (SHF) for atrial septation in mice. Conditional Tbx5 haploinsufficiency in the SHF but not the myocardium or endocardium caused ASDs. Tbx5 SHF knockout embryos lacked atrial septum progenitors. We found that Tbx5 mutant SHF progenitors demonstrated cell-cycle progression defects and that Tbx5 regulated cell-cycle progression genes including Cdk6. Activated hedgehog (Hh) signaling rescued ASDs in Tbx5 mutant embryos, placing Tbx5 upstream or parallel to Hh in cardiac progenitors. Tbx5 regulated SHF Gas1 and Osr1 expression, supporting both pathways. These results describe a SHF Tbx5-Hh network required for atrial septation. A paradigm defining molecular requirements in SHF cardiac progenitors for cardiac septum morphogenesis has implications for the ontogeny of CHD.
Project description:Congenital heart disease is the most common type of birth defect with an incidence of 1%. Previously, we described a point mutation in GATA4 that segregated with cardiac defects in a family with autosomal dominant disease. The mutation (G296S) exhibited biochemical deficits and disrupted a novel interaction between Gata4 and Tbx5. To determine if Gata4 and Tbx5 genetically interact in vivo, we generated mice heterozygous for both alleles. We found that nearly 100% of mice heterozygous for Gata4 and Tbx5 were embryonic or neonatal lethal and had complete atrioventricular (AV) septal defects with a single AV valve and myocardial thinning. Consistent with this phenotype, Gata4 and Tbx5 are co-expressed in the developing endocardial cushions and myocardium. In mutant embryos, cardiomyocyte proliferation deficits were identified compatible with the myocardial hypoplasia. Similar to Gata4, Gata6 and Tbx5 are co-expressed in the embryonic heart, and the transcription factors synergistically activate the atrial natiuretic factor promoter. We demonstrate a genetic interaction between Gata6 and Tbx5 with an incompletely penetrant phenotype of neonatal lethality and thin myocardium. Gene expression analyses were performed on both sets of compound heterozygotes and demonstrated downregulation of alpha-myosin heavy chain only in Gata4/Tbx5 heterozygotes. These findings highlight the unique genetic interactions of Gata4 and Gata6 with Tbx5 for normal cardiac morphogenesis in vivo.
Project description:Tbx1, a T-box transcription factor, and an important gene for velo-cardio-facial syndrome/DiGeorge syndrome (VCFS/DGS) in humans, causes outflow tract (OFT) heart defects when inactivated in the mouse. Tbx1 is expressed in the second heart field (SHF) and is required in this tissue for OFT development. To identify Tbx1 regulated genetic pathways in the SHF, we performed gene expression profiling of the caudal pharyngeal region in Tbx1(-/-) and wild type embryos. Isl1, a key marker for the SHF, as well as Hod and Nkx2-6, were downregulated in Tbx1(-/-) mutants, while genes required for cardiac morphogenesis, such as Raldh2, Gata4, and Tbx5, as well as a subset of muscle contractile genes, signifying myocardial differentiation, were ectopically expressed. Pan-mesodermal ablation of Tbx1 resulted in similar gene expression changes, suggesting cell-autonomous roles of Tbx1 in regulating these genes. Opposite expression changes concomitant with SHF-derived cardiac defects occurred in TBX1 gain-of-function mutants, indicating that appropriate levels of Tbx1 are required for heart development. When taken together, our studies show that Tbx1 acts upstream in a genetic network that positively regulates SHF cell proliferation and negatively regulates differentiation, cell-autonomously in the caudal pharyngeal region.
Project description:The small GTPase Rac1 regulates diverse cellular functions, including both apicobasal and planar cell polarity pathways; however, its role in cardiac outflow tract (OFT) development remains unknown. In the present study, we aimed to examine the role of Rac1 in the anterior second heart field (SHF) splanchnic mesoderm and subsequent OFT development during heart morphogenesis.Using the Cre/loxP system, mice with an anterior SHF-specific deletion of Rac1 (Rac1(SHF)) were generated. Embryos were collected at various developmental time points for immunostaining and histological analysis. Intrauterine echocardiography was also performed to assess aortic valve blood flow in embryos at embryonic day 18.5. The Rac1(SHF) splanchnic mesoderm exhibited disruptions in SHF progenitor cellular organization and proliferation. Consequently, this led to a spectrum of OFT defects along with aortic valve defects in Rac1(SHF) embryos. Mechanistically, it was found that the ability of the Rac1(SHF) OFT myocardial cells to migrate into the proximal OFT cushion was severely reduced. In addition, expression of the neural crest chemoattractant semaphorin 3c was decreased. Lineage tracing showed that anterior SHF contribution to the OFT myocardium and aortic valves was deficient in Rac1(SHF) hearts. Furthermore, functional analysis with intrauterine echocardiography at embryonic day 18.5 showed aortic valve regurgitation in Rac1(SHF) hearts, which was not seen in control hearts.Disruptions of Rac1 signaling in the anterior SHF results in aberrant progenitor cellular organization and defects in OFT development. Our data show Rac1 signaling to be a critical regulator of cardiac OFT formation during embryonic heart development.
Project description:Conotruncal malformations are a major cause of congenital heart defects in newborn infants. Recently, genetic screens in humans and in mouse models have identified mutations in LRP2, a multi-ligand receptor, as a novel cause of a common arterial trunk, a severe form of outflow tract (OFT) defect. Yet, the underlying mechanism why the morphogen receptor LRP2 is essential for OFT development remained unexplained. Studying LRP2-deficient mouse models, we now show that LRP2 is expressed in the cardiac progenitor niche of the anterior second heart field (SHF) that contributes to the elongation of the OFT during separation into aorta and pulmonary trunk. Loss of LRP2 in mutant mice results in the depletion of a pool of sonic hedgehog-dependent progenitor cells in the anterior SHF due to premature differentiation into cardiomyocytes as they migrate into the OFT myocardium. Depletion of this cardiac progenitor cell pool results in aberrant shortening of the OFT, the likely cause of CAT formation in affected mice. Our findings identified the molecular mechanism whereby LRP2 controls the maintenance of progenitor cell fate in the anterior SHF essential for OFT separation, and why receptor dysfunction is a novel cause of conotruncal malformation.
Project description:The GATA family zinc finger transcription factors GATA4 and GATA6 are known to play important roles in the development of the pancreas. In mice, both Gata4 and Gata6 are required for pancreatic development. In humans, GATA6 haploinsufficiency can cause pancreatic agenesis and heart defects. Congenital heart defects also are common in patients with GATA4 mutations and deletions, but the role of GATA4 in the developing human pancreas is unproven. We report five patients with deletions (n = 4) or mutations of the GATA4 gene who have diabetes and a variable exocrine phenotype. In four cases, diabetes presented in the neonatal period (age at diagnosis 1-7 days). A de novo GATA4 missense mutation (p.N273K) was identified in a patient with complete absence of the pancreas confirmed at postmortem. This mutation affects a highly conserved residue located in the second zinc finger domain of the GATA4 protein. In vitro studies showed reduced DNA binding and transactivational activity of the mutant protein. We show that GATA4 mutations/deletions are a cause of neonatal or childhood-onset diabetes with or without exocrine insufficiency. These results confirm a role for GATA4 in normal development of the human pancreas.
Project description:Pancreatic agenesis is a human disorder caused by defects in pancreas development. To date, only a few genes have been linked to pancreatic agenesis in humans, with mutations in pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 (PDX1) and pancreas-specific transcription factor 1a (PTF1A) reported in only 5 families with described cases. Recently, mutations in GATA6 have been identified in a large percentage of human cases, and a GATA4 mutant allele has been implicated in a single case. In the mouse, Gata4 and Gata6 are expressed in several endoderm-derived tissues, including the pancreas. To analyze the functions of GATA4 and/or GATA6 during mouse pancreatic development, we generated pancreas-specific deletions of Gata4 and Gata6. Surprisingly, loss of either Gata4 or Gata6 in the pancreas resulted in only mild pancreatic defects, which resolved postnatally. However, simultaneous deletion of both Gata4 and Gata6 in the pancreas caused severe pancreatic agenesis due to disruption of pancreatic progenitor cell proliferation, defects in branching morphogenesis, and a subsequent failure to induce the differentiation of progenitor cells expressing carboxypeptidase A1 (CPA1) and neurogenin 3 (NEUROG3). These studies address the conserved and nonconserved mechanisms underlying GATA4 and GATA6 function during pancreas development and provide a new mouse model to characterize the underlying developmental defects associated with pancreatic agenesis.
Project description:The Second Heart Field (SHF) has been implicated in several forms of congenital heart disease (CHD), including atrioventricular septal defects (AVSDs). Identifying the SHF gene regulatory networks required for atrioventricular septation is therefore an essential goal for understanding the molecular basis of AVSDs. We defined a SHF Hedgehog-dependent gene regulatory network using whole genome transcriptional profiling and GLI-chromatin interaction studies. The Forkhead box transcription factors Foxf1a and Foxf2 were identified as SHF Hedgehog targets. Compound haploinsufficiency for Foxf1a and Foxf2 caused atrioventricular septal defects, demonstrating the biological relevance of this regulatory network. We identified a Foxf1a cis-regulatory element that bound the Hedgehog transcriptional regulators GLI1 and GLI3 and the T-box transcription factor TBX5 in vivo. GLI1 and TBX5 synergistically activated transcription from this cis-regulatory element in vitro. This enhancer drove reproducible expression in vivo in the posterior SHF, the only region where Gli1 and Tbx5 expression overlaps. Our findings implicate Foxf genes in atrioventricular septation, describe the molecular underpinnings of the genetic interaction between Hedgehog signaling and Tbx5, and establish a molecular model for the selection of the SHF gene regulatory network for cardiac septation.
Project description:Recently, heterozygous mutations in GATA6 have been found in neonatal diabetic patients with failed pancreatic organogenesis. To investigate the roles of GATA4 and GATA6 in mouse pancreas organogenesis, we conditionally inactivated these genes within the pancreas. Single inactivation of either gene did not have a major impact on pancreas formation, indicating functional redundancy. However, double Gata4/Gata6 mutant mice failed to develop pancreata, died shortly after birth, and displayed hyperglycemia. Morphological defects in Gata4/Gata6 mutant pancreata were apparent during embryonic development, and the epithelium failed to expand as a result of defects in cell proliferation and differentiation. The number of multipotent pancreatic progenitors, including PDX1+ cells, was reduced in the Gata4/Gata6 mutant pancreatic epithelium. Remarkably, deletion of only 1 Gata6 allele on a Gata4 conditional knockout background severely reduced pancreatic mass. In contrast, a single WT allele of Gata4 in Gata6 conditional knockout mice was sufficient for normal pancreatic development, indicating differential contributions of GATA factors to pancreas formation. Our results place GATA factors at the top of the transcriptional network hierarchy controlling pancreas organogenesis.