Cardiac development is a complex morphogenetic process initiated as bilateral cardiogenic mesoderm is specified at both sides of the gastrulating embryo. Soon thereafter, these cardiogenic cells fuse at the embryonic midline configuring a symmetrical linear cardiac tube. Left/right bilateral asymmetry is first detected in the forming heart as the cardiac tube bends to the right, and subsequently, atrial and ventricular chambers develop. Molecular signals emanating from the node confer distinct left/right signalling pathways that ultimately lead to activation of the homeobox transcription factor Pitx2 in the left side of distinct embryonic organ anlagen, including the developing heart. Asymmetric expression of Pitx2 has therefore been reported during different cardiac developmental stages, and genetic deletion of Pitx2 provided evidence of key regulatory roles of this transcription factor during cardiogenesis and thus congenital heart diseases. More recently, impaired Pitx2 function has also been linked to arrhythmogenic processes, providing novel roles in the adult heart. In this manuscript, we provide a state-of-the-art review of the fundamental roles of Pitx2 during cardiogenesis, arrhythmogenesis and its contribution to congenital heart diseases.
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