Essential and Unexpected Role of YY1 to Promote Mesodermal Cardiac Differentiation

1Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts, UNITED STATES.
Circulation Research (Impact Factor: 11.09). 03/2013; 112(6). DOI: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.113.259259

ABSTRACT Rationale: Cardiogenesis is regulated by a complex interplay between transcription factors. However, little is known about how these interactions regulate the transition from mesodermal precursors to cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs). Objective: To identify novel regulators of mesodermal cardiac lineage commitment. Methods and Results: We performed a bioinformatic-based transcription factor binding site analysis on upstream promoter regions of genes that are enriched in embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived CPCs. From 32 candidate transcription factors screened, we found that YY1, a repressor of sarcomeric gene expression, is present in CPCs in vivo. Interestingly, we uncovered the ability of YY1 to transcriptionally activate Nkx2.5, a key marker of early cardiogenic commitment. YY1 regulates Nkx2.5 expression via a 2.1 kb cardiac-specific enhancer as demonstrated by in vitro luciferase-based assays and in vivo chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and genome-wide sequencing analysis. Furthermore, the ability of YY1 to activate Nkx2.5 expression depends on its cooperative interaction with Gata4 at a nearby chromatin. Cardiac mesoderm-specific loss-of-function of YY1 resulted in early embryonic lethality. This was corroborated in vitro by ESC-based assays where we show that the overexpression of YY1 enhanced the cardiogenic differentiation of ESCs into CPCs. Conclusions: These results demonstrate an essential and unexpected role for YY1 to promote cardiogenesis as a transcriptional activator of Nkx2.5 and other CPC-enriched genes.

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