J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2016, 3(3), 26; doi:10.3390/jcdd3030026 - published 11 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Proper formation of the mammalian heart requires precise spatiotemporal transcriptional regulation of gene programs in cardiomyocytes. Sophisticated regulatory networks have evolved to not only integrate the activities of distinct transcription factors to control tissue-specific gene programs but also, in many instances, to incorporate multiple members within these transcription factor families to ensure accuracy and specificity in the system. Unsurprisingly, perturbations in this elaborate transcriptional circuitry can lead to severe cardiac abnormalities. Myocyte enhancer factor–2 (MEF2) transcription factor belongs to the evolutionarily conserved cardiac gene regulatory network. Given its central role in muscle gene regulation and its evolutionary conservation, MEF2 is considered one of only a few core cardiac transcription factors. In addition to its firmly established role as a differentiation factor, MEF2 regulates wide variety of, sometimes antagonistic, cellular processes such as cell survival and death. Vertebrate genomes encode multiple MEF2 family members thereby expanding the transcriptional potential of this core transcription factor in the heart. This review highlights the requirement of the MEF2 family and their orthologs in cardiac development in diverse animal model systems. Furthermore, we describe the recently characterized role of MEF2 in direct reprogramming and genome-wide cardiomyocyte gene regulation. A thorough understanding of the regulatory functions of the MEF2 family in cardiac development and cardiogenomics is required in order to develop effective therapeutic strategies to repair the diseased heart.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2016, 3(3), 25; doi:10.3390/jcdd3030025 - published 9 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Cardiac cell specification and the genetic determinants that govern this process are highly conserved among Chordates. Recent studies have established the importance of evolutionarily-conserved mechanisms in the study of congenital heart defects and disease, as well as cardiac regeneration. As a basal Chordate, the Ciona model system presents a simple scaffold that recapitulates the basic blueprint of cardiac development in Chordates. Here we will focus on the development and cellular structure of the heart of the ascidian Ciona as compared to other Chordates, principally vertebrates. Comparison of the Ciona model system to heart development in other Chordates presents great potential for dissecting the genetic mechanisms that underlie congenital heart defects and disease at the cellular level and might provide additional insight into potential pathways for therapeutic cardiac regeneration.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2016, 3(3), 24; doi:10.3390/jcdd3030024 - published 5 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: For more than a decade, stem cell therapy has been the focus of intensive efforts for the treatment of adult heart disease, and now has promise for treating the pediatric population. On the basis of encouraging results in the adult field, the application of stem cell-based strategies in children with congenital heart disease (CHD) opens a new therapy paradigm. To date, the safety and efficacy of stem cell-based products to promote cardiac repair and recovery in dilated cardiomyopathy and structural heart disease in infants have been primarily demonstrated in scattered clinical case reports, and supported by a few relevant pre-clinical models. Recently the TICAP trial has shown the safety and feasibility of intracoronary infusion of autologous cardiosphere-derived cells in children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. A focus on preemptive cardiac regeneration in the pediatric setting may offer new insights as to the timing of surgery, location of cell-based delivery, and type of cell-based regeneration that could further inform acquired cardiac disease applications. Here, we review the current knowledge on the field of stem cell therapy and tissue engineering in children with CHD, and discuss the gaps and future perspectives on cell-based strategies to treat patients with CHD.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2016, 3(2), 23; doi:10.3390/jcdd3020023 - published 16 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Cardiovascular diseases including coronary artery disease are the leading cause of death worldwide. Unraveling the developmental origin of coronary vessels could offer important therapeutic implications for treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The recent identification of the endocardial source of coronary vessels reveals a heterogeneous origin of coronary arteries in the adult heart. In this review, we will highlight recent advances in finding the sources of coronary vessels in the mammalian heart from lineage-tracing models as well as differentiation studies using pluripotent stem cells. Moreover, we will also discuss how we induce neovascularization in the damaged heart through transient yet highly efficient expression of VEGF-modified mRNAs as a potentially therapeutic delivery platform.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2016, 3(2), 22; doi:10.3390/jcdd3020022 - published 15 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Popeye domain containing (POPDC) genes encode a novel class of cAMP effector proteins, which are abundantly expressed in heart and skeletal muscle. Here, we will review their role in striated muscle as deduced from work in cell and animal models and the recent analysis of patients carrying a missense mutation in POPDC1. Evidence suggests that POPDC proteins control membrane trafficking of interacting proteins. Furthermore, we will discuss the current catalogue of established protein-protein interactions. In recent years, the number of POPDC-interacting proteins has been rising and currently includes ion channels (TREK-1), sarcolemma-associated proteins serving functions in mechanical stability (dystrophin), compartmentalization (caveolin 3), scaffolding (ZO-1), trafficking (NDRG4, VAMP2/3) and repair (dysferlin) or acting as a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rho-family GTPases (GEFT). Recent evidence suggests that POPDC proteins might also control the cellular level of the nuclear proto-oncoprotein c-Myc. These data suggest that this family of cAMP-binding proteins probably serves multiple roles in striated muscle.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2016, 3(2), 21; doi:10.3390/jcdd3020021 - published 4 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The African clawed frog, Xenopus, is a valuable non-mammalian model organism to investigate vertebrate heart development and to explore the underlying molecular mechanisms of human congenital heart defects (CHDs). In this review, we outline the similarities between Xenopus and mammalian cardiogenesis, and provide an overview of well-studied cardiac genes in Xenopus, which have been associated with congenital heart conditions. Additionally, we highlight advantages of modeling candidate genes derived from genome wide association studies (GWAS) in Xenopus and discuss commonly used techniques.