Gata5 is required for the development
of the heart and endoderm in zebrafish
Jeremy F. Reiter,1Jonathan Alexander,1Adam Rodaway,2Deborah Yelon,1Roger Patient,2
Nigel Holder,3,4and Didier Y.R. Stainier1,5
1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Programs in Human Genetics and Developmental Biology, University
of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0448 USA;2Developmental Biology Research Centre,
The Randall Institute, King’s College London, London WC2B 5RL, UK;3Department of Anatomy and Developmental
Biology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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.
[Key Words: Gata; cardia bifida; nkx2.5; organogenesis; morphogenesis; liver]
Received July 22, 1999; revised version accepted October 5, 1999.
Fusion of the cardiac primordia is the first in a complex
series of morphogenetic steps required to form a func-
tional heart. The cardiac primordia are contained within
the anterior lateral plate mesoderm (ALPM). During seg-
mentation stages, the bilateral populations of ALPM mi-
grate medially and fuse to form a cell layer that crosses
the embryonic midline. As part of this process, the two
cardiac primordia meet and fuse at the embryonic mid-
line to form the definitive heart tube. In the absence of
migration, the two cardiac primordia develop in their
original lateral positions, resulting in a phenotype called
cardia bifida. Six zebrafish mutations causing cardia bi-
fida were identified in the large-scale screens for genes
regulating embryonic development: faust (fau), casanova
(cas), one-eyed pinhead (oep), bonnie and clyde, miles
apart, and natter (Chen et al. 1996; Stainier et al. 1996).
Two of these mutations, oep and cas, also disrupt en-
doderm formation (Schier et al. 1997; Alexander et al.
1999), underscoring the developmental relationship be-
tween the heart and endoderm. Classical embryological
experiments initially identified the ability of endoderm
to induce rhythmic contraction in cardiac explants (Ja-
cobson and Sater 1988). More recent experiments have
confirmed that the endoderm is required for avian car-
diac myofibrillogenesis (Gannon and Bader 1995). The
endoderm is also implicated in the earlier process of pre-
cardiac mesoderm induction; coculture of Xenopus deep
endoderm with the heart primordia enhances cardiogen-
esis (Nascone and Mercola 1995), and BMP2, which is
secreted by the anterior endoderm, is sufficient to induce
expression of myocardial genes in avian noncardiogenic
mesoderm (Schultheiss et al. 1997).
Heart and endoderm development in the mouse both
require the zinc finger transcription factor Gata4 (Kuo et
al. 1997; Molkentin et al. 1997). Although 35% of gata4
null embryos arrest at the egg cylinder stage for un-
known reasons, those that do gastrulate fail to form a
fused heart or a foregut and develop partially outside the
yolk sac and amnion. Gene expression within the pre-
cardiac mesoderm is not significantly affected, suggest-
ing that cardiac differentiation is not the primary defect.
In support of this conclusion, chimera analyses indicate
that Gata4 function in the visceral and/or anterior de-
finitive endoderm restores ventral closure and cardiac
fusion to otherwise gata4 null embryos (Narita et al.
Gata4 is one of a family of six vertebrate Gata tran-
scription factors, each of which contains two zinc fin-
gers and binds to regulatory elements containing
A/TGATAA/G or closely related sequences. The gata
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GENES & DEVELOPMENT 13:2983–2995 © 1999 by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press ISSN 0890-9369/99 $5.00; www.genesdev.org 2983
genes can be divided into two groups on the basis of
sequence homology and expression pattern. The mem-
bers of the first group, gata1, gata2, and gata3 have
unique roles in hematopoiesis (for review, see Orkin and
Zon 1997), whereas gata4, gata5, and gata6 are expressed
in the ALPM and endoderm (for review, see Evans 1997).
Studies of cis-regulatory elements have suggested that
gata4, gata5, and gata6 have important roles in promot-
ing the expression of both myocardial and endodermal
genes. Transfection of heterologous cells with Gata fac-
tors activates transcription of myocardial genes includ-
ing ?-myosin heavy chain (?-MHC), cardiac troponin C,
and B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) (for review, see
Evans 1997), as well as endodermal genes such as IFABP
and HNF4 (Gao et al. 1998; Morrisey et al. 1998). Evi-
dence that Gata factors directly activate the transcrip-
tion of myocardial and endodermal genes has come from
studies identifying functionally important Gata-binding
sites in the regulatory regions of the myocardial genes
?-MHC and BNP (for review, see Evans 1997) and the
liver enhancer of serum albumin (Bossard and Zaret
1998). Recently, Gata-binding sites have been identified
in two different regulatory elements of nkx2.5, one of the
earliest known markers of the myocardial precursors
(Searcy et al. 1998; Lien et al. 1999). Each of these ele-
ments activates expression in a manner similar to the
endogenous nkx2.5 promoter and depends on Gata sites
Experiments in chick and Xenopus provide further in
vivo evidence for the role of gata factors in heart devel-
opment. Inhibition of Gata activity through the addition
of three antisense oligonucleotides complementary to
gata4, gata5, and gata6 produces variable abnormalities
in avian cardiac morphogenesis (Jiang et al. 1998). Ecto-
pic expression of gata4 and gata5 in Xenopus embryos
leads to the premature expression of the myocardial
genes ?-cardiac actin and ?-MHC (Jiang and Evans 1996).
In contrast, sustaining the expression of Xenopus gata6
after it has normally declined inhibits expression of
markers of terminal myocardial differentiation, perhaps
by maintaining the precardiac mesoderm in an undiffer-
entiated state (Gove et al. 1997).
gata genes also play evolutionarily conserved roles in
endoderm development, as the Drosophila gata gene ser-
pent and the Caenorhabditis elegans gata gene elt-2 are
essential for differentiation of the embryonic gut (Re-
horn et al. 1996; Fukushige et al. 1998). Another C. el-
egans gata gene, end-1, is implicated in the earlier pro-
cess of endoderm specification (Zhu et al. 1997, 1998).
Here, we show that the zebrafish fau locus is essential
for multiple aspects of heart and endoderm development
and that fau encodes Gata5. Analysis of fau mutants
reveals that Gata5 is required for the normal expression
of nkx2.5 and for other aspects of myocardial differentia-
tion. Mutations in gata5 also prevent the formation of
normal amounts of cardiac and endodermal tissue and
inhibit the normal morphogenesis of the heart, pharyn-
geal endoderm, and gut. Furthermore, we demonstrate
that the overexpression of gata5 is sufficient to activate
ectopic expression of nkx2.5 and other cardiac genes and
to cause the formation of ectopic regions of rhythmically
contracting tissue. Thus, our results establish Gata5 as a
critical regulator of nkx2.5 expression and of multiple
aspects of cardiac and endoderm development.
fau mutants display defects in heart development
The zebrafish fau locus is defined by two alleles; fautm236a
is a previously reported, ethylnitrosourea (ENU)-induced
allele (Chen et al. 1996), whereas the second allele,
faus26, arose spontaneously in an unrelated line. Both
alleles segregate as fully penetrant, completely recessive
mutations and cause equivalent phenotypes. The tran-
sheterozygous phenotype is also fully penetrant and is
indistinguishable from the homozygous phenotypes.
Most conspicuously, fau mutations disrupt formation
of the definitive heart tube, an early step in cardiac mor-
phogenesis. Heart-tube formation depends upon the me-
dial migration and fusion of the bilateral cardiac primor-
dia (Stainier et al. 1993). In fau mutants this step of car-
diac morphogenesis usually fails to occur, resulting in
cardia bifida. However, 0%–45% of the fau mutant em-
bryos in a given clutch produce fused, although morpho-
logically abnormal, hearts. This variable expressivity is
present in both alleles and also pertains to other aspects
of the phenotype.
To examine when and how fau functions in heart de-
velopment, we examined the expression of markers of
the developing cardiac primordia. In fau mutants at 18.5
hr postfertilization (hpf), myocardial precursors express-
ing cardiac myosin light chain 2 (cmlc2) (Yelon et al.
1999) and endocardial precursors expressing tie2 (Lyons
et al. 1998) fail to migrate to the embryonic midline (Fig.
1B,C), demonstrating that the morphogenesis of both tis-
sues that comprise the zebrafish heart is affected. Devel-
opment of more posterior lateral plate mesodermal de-
rivatives, such as the fin bud and blood, are unaffected in
fau mutants (data not shown). Therefore, fau is essential
for the proper morphogenesis of both of the cellular com-
ponents of the zebrafish heart tube but is not generally
required for the development of lateral plate mesodermal
Mutations in fau lead to the abnormal expression of
genes encoding myocardial sarcomere components. car-
diac troponin T, tropomyosin, cmlc1, and cmlc2 are all
expressed in fewer cells in fau mutants than in wild-type
siblings (Fig. 1B,D; data not shown). Detailed examina-
tion of myocardial sarcomere gene expression in
fautm236amutants reveals a differential requirement for
the fau gene product. For example, cmlc1 expression is
more profoundly reduced in fautm236amutants than is
the expression of cmlc2 (Fig. 1B,D, middle panels). This
distinction is less apparent in faus26mutants as too few
cells express sarcomere genes in these mutants to allow
easy comparison. The more severe defect in cmlc2 and
cmlc1 expression observed in faus26mutants than in
fautm236amutants indicates that the faus26allele is the
stronger of the two.
Reiter et al.
2984 GENES & DEVELOPMENT
During earlier segmentation stages before the migra-
tion of the cardiac primordia to the midline, the ALPM
exists as two parallel stripes of cells lateral to the head
and anterior notochord. gata6, a gene expressed through-
out the ALPM, is expressed normally in fau mutants
(Fig. 1E). However, the expression of the related gene
gata4 in the ALPM is slightly reduced (Fig. 1F). Together,
these results indicate that fau is not required for the
formation of the ALPM but is critical for the expression
of cardiac genes within this tissue.
nkx2.5, an Nk homeobox gene required for heart de-
velopment (for review, see Evans 1999), is also expressed
in part of the ALPM from early in development. Expres-
sion of nkx2.5 is dramatically reduced in fau mutants
(Fig. 1G), demonstrating that fau is a direct or indirect
regulator of nkx2.5 expression and is required at a very
early stage of ALPM differentiation. fautm236amutants
display less severely diminished nkx2.5 expression (Fig.
1G), further indicating that faus26is the stronger allele.
Later in development, the zebrafish heart differenti-
ates into an anterior ventricle and a posterior atrium.
Immunofluorescent staining using monoclonal antibod-
ies that recognize myosin heavy chain epitopes differen-
tially expressed in ventricular and atrial tissues (Stainier
and Fishman 1992) reveals that ventricular and atrial dif-
ferentiation does not depend on cardiac fusion. For ex-
ample, a robust amount of both ventricular and atrial
tissue forms in the cardia bifida mutant cas (Fig. 2A,B).
However, fautm236amyocardia, in addition to being
smaller than cas myocardia, contain proportionally
much less ventricular tissue (Fig. 2B,C). This defect is
also observable at earlier stages, before the cardiac pri-
mordia normally fuse. At the 18-somite stage the expres-
sion of ventricular myosin heavy chain (vmhc), a marker
of ventricular myocardium (Yelon et al. 1999), is dra-
matically reduced in fautm236amutants (Fig. 2D). vmhc
expression is more severely reduced, or even absent, in
faus26mutants (Fig. 2D).
fau mutants display defects
in endoderm morphogenesis
As embryological experiments in chick and amphibia
have suggested that the endoderm is a source of instruc-
tive signals for the precardiac mesoderm, we investi-
gated the effects of the fau mutations on endoderm de-
velopment. From 24 to 48 hpf, the zebrafish gut endo-
derm coalesces at the midline where it will form a tube,
loop to the left, and differentiate into the liver, pancreas,
swim bladder, and epithelium of the gastrointestinal
tract (Warga and Nu ¨sslein-Volhard 1999). The anterior
gut endoderm expresses axial, a homolog of HNF3?
(Strahle et al. 1996), whereas the posterior endoderm
expresses fkd2, a homolog of HNF3? (Odenthal and
of cmlc2 (B), tie2 (C), cmlc1 (D), gata6 (E), gata4 (F) and nkx2.5 (G) in wild-type embryos and fau
mutant siblings at the 19-somite (18.5 hpf; A,B,C,D), 12-somite (15 hpf; E,F) and 6-somite (12
hpf; G) stages. All views are dorsal with anterior to the top. (A) At the 19-somite stage, both
fautm236aand faus26mutants are morphologically indistinguishable from wild-type siblings. The
blue box approximately outlines the cardiogenic region, which lies ventral and just posterior to
the midbrain–hindbrain boundary. B and D depict enlarged views of this region. (B) In wild-type
embryos, the myocardial primordia express cmlc2 and have fused at the embryonic midline
(left). In contrast, the myocardial primordia of fautm236amutants do not migrate to the embry-
onic midline, resulting in cardia bifida (middle). The myocardial primordia of faus26mutants
also fail to migrate to the embryonic midline (right) and in addition display a severe reduction
in the number of cells expressing cmlc2. (C) Formation of the endocardium (arrow) also depends
on the migration of precursors from the ALPM to the embryonic midline. In fau mutants,
endocardial precursors expressing tie2 are absent from the midline. tie2 expression in endothe-
lial cells (arrowhead) reveals that more anterior vasculature forms normally in fau mutants. (D)
cmlc1 is also expressed in the myocardial primordia. In the right fautm236acardiac primordium
(middle), <20 cells express cmlc1 whereas >120 cells express cmlc1 in each wild-type primor-
dium (left). In contrast, fautm236amutants and wild-type siblings contain approximately equal
numbers of cmlc2-expressing cells (see B). (E) gata6 is widely expressed throughout the ALPM
throughout somitogenesis. gata6 expression is not perturbed in fau mutants. (F) In contrast,
ALPM expression of gata4 is slightly reduced in fau mutants. (G) nkx2.5 expression is also
reduced in fau mutants. Although the number of cells expressing nkx2.5 is only moderately
reduced in fautm236amutants (middle), nkx2.5 expression is severely diminished in faus26mu-
fau mutants display abnormal cardiac morphogenesis and differentiation. Expression
Heart and gut development require gata5
GENES & DEVELOPMENT2985
Nu ¨sslein-Volhard 1998). In fau mutants, axial-express-
ing cells fail to coalesce at the midline, disrupting ante-
rior gut tube morphogenesis (Fig. 3A, arrow). The poste-
rior endoderm displays more variable defects that range
from the near absence of gut to the failure of gut looping
fau mutations also disrupt the morphogenesis of the
pharyngeal endoderm. In fau mutants, the pharyngeal
pouches are separated by a larger mediolateral distance
(Fig. 3C), a defect that is reminiscent of the inability of
the gut endoderm and precardiac mesoderm to migrate
to the embryonic midline. In addition, the anterior pha-
ryngeal pouches are dysmorphic in fautm236amutants
(Fig. 3C, arrow), whereas the most anterior nkx2.3-ex-
pressing cells appear to be absent in faus26mutants (Fig.
fau encodes Gata5
Initially, we mapped the fau locus 1.5 cM proximal to
the simple sequence repeat marker z20895 on linkage
group 23 (Shimoda et al. 1998). Using an enriched selec-
tion for amplified fragment length polymorphisms
(AFLPs), we identified a number of markers located
within a centimorgan of fau. In a parallel approach, we
mapped gata5, a gene dynamically expressed in both the
endoderm and cardiac mesoderm (see below), to the same
genomic region using the Goodfellow radiation hybrid
panel (Kwok et al. 1998). Linkage analysis using a restric-
mal in fau mutants. Mutants (33 hpf) and wild-type siblings
were stained with MF20 and S46 antibodies (A–C). Red fluores-
cence indicates MF20 (TRITC) staining of ventricular myocar-
dium and yellow fluorescence indicates the overlap of MF20
(TRITC) and S46 (FITC) staining of atrial myocardium. A–C
show ventral views with anterior to the top. D shows dorsal
views of vmhc expression at the 18-somite stage (18 hpf). (A)
Wild-type embryos develop a single, looped heart patterned into
a ventricle (red) and atrium (yellow). (B) cas mutants display
cardia bifida and form both ventricular and atrial tissue. (C) fau
mutants also display cardia bifida but form less total myocar-
dium and only a very small amount of ventricular tissue. Here,
one myocardium (left) has not formed any ventricular tissue. (D)
vmhc is expressed in the preventricular component of the de-
veloping myocardium. vmhc expression is dramatically reduced
in fau myocardial primordia even prior to cardiac fusion. faus26
mutants display a variable loss of vmhc expression; (right) a
faus26mutant in which less than five cells weakly express vmhc
in the left ALPM (arrow), whereas none do on the right.
Formation of ventricular myocardial tissue is abnor-
Expression of axial (A), fkd2 (B), and nkx2.3 (C,D) in wild-type
embryos and fau mutant siblings at 44 hpf (A,B,D) and 28 hpf
(C). All views are dorsal with anterior to the top. (A) axial is
expressed in the anterior gut endoderm and the ventral neuro-
ectoderm. At this stage, the anterior gut endoderm is coalescing
at the embryonic midline in wild-type embryos. In fau mutants,
gut endoderm is only present laterally (arrow). For purposes of
orientation, the arrow is at the level of the midbrain–hindbrain
boundary. (B) fkd2 is expressed throughout the pancreas (arrow-
head), liver (arrow), and posterior gut tube in wild-type embryos.
fau mutants display variable abnormalities in the morphogen-
esis and amount of fkd2-positive tissue. These defects range
from near absence of fkd2-positive endoderm (top right) to for-
mation of two lateral gut tubes (bottom left) to the absence of
gut looping (bottom right). (C) Morphogenesis of the pharyngeal
pouches is disrupted in fau mutants. The mediolateral distance
between the pouches is greater in fau mutants and the anterior
pouches (arrow) are disorganized. Also, midline nkx2.3-express-
ing cells (arrowhead) appear to be absent in fau mutants. (D) In
faus26mutants, the anterior domain of nkx2.3 expression (ar-
row) is absent.
Endoderm development is abnormal in fau mutants.
Reiter et al.
2986GENES & DEVELOPMENT
tion fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) within the
gata5 gene demonstrated that the mutant gata5 allele
segregated with the fautm236aphenotype in >300 meioses.
Sequencing of the fautm236aallele of gata5 revealed a
G-to-A substitution at the first base of the third intron
(Fig. 4A). This mutation disrupts the highly conserved
GT dinucleotide necessary for recognition of the splice
site by the U1 snRNP (Krawczak et al. 1992). Sequencing
of gata5 cDNAs from fau mutants demonstrated that the
fautm236amutation leads to mis-splicing at flanking
cryptic splice sites (Fig. 4B). The most frequently isolated
cDNA results from the use of a downstream cryptic
splice site and contains a 31-bp insertion predicted to
create a translational frameshift (Fig. 4C,D). A less fre-
quently isolated cDNA is produced by use of a cryptic
splice site 30 bp upstream of the inactivated site (Fig. 4B).
This mutant splice variant is predicted to produce a 10-
amino-acid deletion in the second zinc finger (Fig. 4C,D).
Structure/function studies have revealed that murine
Gata5 contains two amino-terminal transcriptional acti-
vation domains, as well as a basic domain required for
nuclear localization (Morrisey et al. 1997b). Murine
Gata4 also contains a carboxy-terminal transcriptional
activation domain required for synergistic activity with
Nkx2.5 (Durocher et al. 1997; Lee et al. 1998; Sepulveda
et al. 1998). As Gata5 shows a similar synergism with
Sequencing of fautm236aand wild-type geno-
mic DNA reveals a G-to-A substitution at
the +1 position of the third intron of gata5
(blue). (B) Comparison of the vertebrate con-
sensus 5? splice site (Krawczak et al. 1992)
with the wild-type gata5 intron 3 5? splice
site, the mutant sequence, the cryptic
downstream 5? splice site, and the cryptic
upstream 5? splice site. Subscripts indicate
the frequency at which nucleotides occur in
the consensus splice site. Blue shading
marks the fautm236amutation. (C) Compari-
son of the complete wild-type Gata5 protein
tm236a-1 is the sequence of the protein pre-
dicted to result from use of the downstream
cryptic splice site and was most frequently
isolated from fautm236amutants. tm236a-2
is the sequence of the protein predicted to
result from use of the upstream cryptic
splice site and was less frequently isolated
from fautm236amutants. The two zinc fin-
gers are shaded green. The basic domain re-
quired for nuclear localization is shaded
yellow. (D) Schematic of the expected ef-
fects of the fautm236amutation on Gata5
structure. The purple carboxy-terminal tail
of tm236a-1 represents the nonfunctional
domain created by the frameshift mutation.
The deletion of the carboxy-terminal por-
tion of the second zinc finger of tm236a-2 is
represented by the smaller size of the sec-
ond green rectangle. The transcriptional ac-
tivation domains depicted in red are pre-
dicted based on comparison of zebrafish
Gata5 domains with identified murine
Gata4 and Gata5 activation domains (Du-
rocher et al. 1997; Morrisey et al. 1997b).
fau encodes zebrafish Gata5. (A)
Heart and gut development require gata5
GENES & DEVELOPMENT 2987
Nkx2.5 (Durocher et al. 1997), Gata5 may also contain a
carboxy-terminal activation domain. Sequence compari-
son of murine Gata5 and zebrafish Gata5 suggests that
the two proteins are similar in structure (Rodaway et al.
1999). The more prevalent 31-bp insertion caused by the
fautm236amutation disrupts the putative carboxy-termi-
nal activation domain and the basic nuclear localization
domain of zebrafish Gata5 (Fig. 4C,D). The rarer splicing
event deletes a 30-bp region that encodes part of the car-
boxy-terminal zinc finger required for DNA binding and
for interaction with the transcription factors NF-AT3
and Nkx2.5 (Durocher et al. 1997; Lee et al. 1998;
Molkentin et al. 1998). Additionally, the carboxy-termi-
nal zinc finger has also been implicated in mediating
heterotypic interactions between Gata factors (Charron
et al. 1999). Therefore, we suspect that both mutant
forms of Gata5 retain little, if any, activity. However,
wild-type message can be detected in fautm236amutants
(see Materials and Methods), indicating that the splicing
machinery is still able to recognize the mutant splice
site, albeit at a much reduced frequency. Taken together,
these data indicate that fautm236ais a mutation in the
gata5 gene that substantially reduces, but does not
eliminate, the production of wild-type Gata5.
Examination of the faus26gata5 cDNA sequence did
not identify a mutation. As gata5 expression is dramati-
cally diminished in faus26mutants (see below), we hy-
pothesize that the faus26mutation disrupts the function
of the gata5 promoter. We sequenced 800 bp upstream of
the transcriptional start site and have identified a puta-
tive core promoter without successfully identifying the
faus26lesion (data not shown). Therefore, we speculate
that the faus26mutation disrupts a distal enhancer of the
gata5 gene that reduces gata5 transcription to very low
gata5 expression in wild-type and fau mutant embryos
In zebrafish, gata5 is first expressed at the dome stage
(late blastula) in the most marginal cells (Fig. 5A, arrow-
head), a population that includes the endodermal pro-
genitors and some mesodermal progenitors (Warga
and Nu ¨sslein-Volhard 1999), and in the yolk syncytial
layer (YSL), an extraembryonic tissue underlying the
blastoderm that may be equivalent to the mouse visceral
endoderm (Fig. 5A, arrow). During gastrulation, gata5-
expressing cells in the hypoblast adopt one of two dif-
ferent morphologies. Predominantly dorsally, gata5-ex-
pressing cells adopt the large, flat morphology charac-
teristic of endoderm (Fig. 5C, arrowhead) (Warga and
Nu ¨sslein-Volhard 1999). Further evidence that these
large gata5-expressing cells are endodermal progeni-
tors comes from the very similar distribution of these
cells and the axial- and sox17-expressing endodermal
progenitors (Alexander and Stainier 1999). In a more
ventral domain reflecting the regional propensity to be-
come heart (Stainier et al. 1993), other gata5-expressing
cells adopt a rounder morphology characteristic of me-
sodermal progenitors (Fig. 5C, arrow). After completion
of gastrulation, gata5 expression persists in the endo-
derm and ALPM (Fig. 5D). ALPM expression of gata5 is
whereas the level of endodermal expression diminishes
(Fig. 5E). Later, from 20–22 hpf, cardiac expression of
gata5 becomes predominantly endocardial (Fig. 5F, ar-
row), as has been described for murine gata5 (Morrisey et
hpf; A), germ ring (5.7 hpf; B), 90% epiboly (9 hpf; C), bud (10
hpf; D), 4-somite (11.3 hpf; E), 28 hpf (F,H), and 80% epiboly (8.3
hpf; G) stages. A,B,C, and G show lateral views with dorsal to
the right. D,E,F, and H show dorsal views with anterior to the
top. (A) At dome stage, gata5 is expressed in the yolk syncytial
layer (arrow) and the most marginal tiers of the blastoderm (ar-
rowhead). (B) During early gastrulation, gata5 expression is
maintained in the marginal zone (bracket) and yolk syncytial
layer (arrow). (C) Late in gastrulation, gata5 is expressed by cells
of two different morphologies. Predominantly dorsally, endo-
dermal cells displaying a characteristically large and flat mor-
phology (arrowhead) express gata5. Ventrally, hypoblast cells
with a rounder, more mesodermal appearance (arrow) also ex-
press gata5. (D) After the completion of gastrulation, gata5 is
expressed in the endoderm (stippled staining) and ALPM (ar-
row). (E) During early somitogenesis, both the endoderm and
lateral plate mesoderm (arrow) continue to express gata5. (F) At
28 hpf, gata5 is expressed most strongly in the endocardium
(arrow) and weakly in the surrounding noncardiogenic ALPM.
(G) faus26mutants display markedly reduced gata5 expression.
At 80% epiboly, gata5 mRNA is undetectable in the YSL and
observed only faintly (arrow) in the blastoderm of faus26mu-
tants. (H) gata5 expression is undetectable in faus26mutants at
gata5 expression in zebrafish embryos at dome (4.3
Reiter et al.
2988GENES & DEVELOPMENT
Expression of gata5 in fautm236amutants and wild-
type siblings is indistinguishable until morphogenetic
defects become apparent. In contrast, faus26mutants dis-
play markedly decreased gata5 expression throughout
development and in both the YSL and embryonic tissues
(Fig. 5G,H). Very low levels of gata5 expression can be
detected in faus26mutants by in situ hybridization (Fig.
5G, arrow) and RT–PCR (data not shown), indicating
that although expression is strikingly diminished, the
faus26mutation does not completely eliminate the pro-
duction of gata5 message.
Overexpression of wild-type gata5 rescues heart fusion
To confirm that the fau mutant phenotype is due to the
absence of Gata5 activity, we injected mRNA encoding
wild-type Gata5 into fautm236amutants at the 1–4 cell
stage. Although this approach leads to widespread mis-
expression, injection of 20 pg of gata5 mRNA restores
cardiac fusion in fautm236amutants (Fig. 6A; Table 1),
confirming that the fau phenotype is due to a loss-of-
function mutation in gata5. gata5-injected fau mutants
are not rescued to viability as gata5 misexpression
causes variable abnormalities in morphogenesis, includ-
ing anterior truncations and compression of the ante-
rior–posterior axis. Injection of tm236a-1, a gata5
mRNA containing the same insertion and frameshift as
most commonly caused by the fautm236amutation, does
not rescue cardiac fusion (Table 1). Moreover, tm236a-1
overexpression does not disrupt morphogenesis, indicat-
ing that it has little if any biological activity.
To test whether the defects in organogenesis exhibited
by fau mutants are due to reduced Gata5 activity in the
extraembryonic YSL, we injected gata5 mRNA directly
into the YSL. Overexpression of gata5 mRNA in the YSL
does not restore cardiac fusion in fautm236amutants (14
cardia bifida mutants observed in a clutch of 60 YSL-
injected embryos), suggesting that gata5 is required em-
bryonically to promote heart fusion.
Ectopic expression of gata5 leads to the ectopic
expression of myocardial genes
Injection of wild-type embryos with 50 pg of gata5
mRNA expands the ALPM expression of cmlc1, cmlc2,
vmhc, and the MF20 and S46 myosin heavy chain pro-
teins and leads to their ectopic expression (Fig. 6B,C;
Table 2; data not shown). Occasionally, ectopic domains
of myocardial gene expression both in the head and the
tail were observed to contract rhythmically (Table 2).
Control embryos injected with gfp mRNA did not mani-
fest either expansion of myocardial gene expression or
ectopic regions of beating tissue.
Because nkx2.5 is downregulated in fau mutants, we
investigated whether gata5 overexpression was suffi-
cient to induce the expression of zebrafish nkx2.5 or
other myocardial regulatory genes. Notably, we found
that injection of 50 pg of gata5 mRNA expands the do-
main of nkx2.5, gata4, and gata6 expression within the
ALPM (Fig. 6D–F; Table 2) and causes them to be ecto-
pically expressed (Fig. 6D; Table 2). Coinjection of lacZ
and gata5 mRNA allowed us to correlate the embryonic
distribution of the exogenous RNA with the increased
expression of nkx2.5. In all cases but one (n = 131), re-
gions of expanded or ectopic nkx2.5 expression over-
lapped with the distribution of exogenous gata5 mRNA
as indicated by ?-galactosidase activity (Fig. 6D; Table 2),
fautm236amutants and leads to ectopic expression of myocardial
genes. Expression of cmlc1 (A,C), cmlc2 (B), nkx2.5 (D), gata4
(E), and gata6 (F) in wild-type embryos and fau mutant siblings
at 36 hpf (A), 25 hpf (B,C), 5-somite stage (11.7 hpf; D), and
12-somite stage (14.5 hpf; E,F). Views are anterior (A), lateral
[B,C,D (bottom right) ], and dorsal [D (top, and bottom left), E,F].
(A) Injection of 20 pg of tm236a-1 mRNA has no demonstrable
effect on development (top left) and does not restore cardiac
fusion in fautm236amutants (top right, arrows). In contrast, in-
jection of an equivalent amount of wild-type gata5 mRNA
causes variable defects in head and body morphology (bottom
left) and can restore cardiac fusion in fautm236amutants (bottom
right, arrowhead). (B) Injection of a higher dose of gata5 mRNA
(50 pg) can cause expanded expression of cmlc2 in a domain
contiguous to the ALPM. (C) gata5 overexpression can also
cause ectopic expression of cmlc1. Here, gata5 overexpression
has led to ectopic cmlc1 expression in cells overlying the ven-
tral side of the yolk (arrow). A heart tube has also formed in the
expected location (arrowhead). (D) Injection of 50 pg of gata5
mRNA can increase the number of cells expressing nkx2.5 (top
right) and cause ectopic nkx2.5 expression (bottom). The bot-
tom panels show dorsal and lateral views of the same embryo,
which exhibits a dorsal midline region of ectopic nkx2.5 expres-
sion (arrows). ?-Galactosidase staining produces a turquoise
color marking the distribution of coinjected lacZ mRNA. gata5
overexpression can also lead to increased expression of gata4 (E)
and gata6 (F).
Overexpression of gata5 rescues cardiac fusion in
Heart and gut development require gata5
GENES & DEVELOPMENT2989
suggesting that Gata5 autonomously induces the expres-
sion of myocardial genes.
Surprisingly, the ectopic expression of these genes
does not appear to be limited to the mesodermal germ
layer. Ectopic expression of nkx2.5, gata4, and gata6 was
observed in dorsal regions of the embryo normally fated
to form neuroectoderm (Fig. 6D; data not shown). Neu-
roectodermal expression of nkx2.5 and gata6 is never
observed during normal zebrafish embryogenesis.
Human gata5 maps to 20q13.2–q13.3
Mutations in human NKX2-5 can cause congenital car-
diac septation defects (Schott et al. 1998). As Gata4 and
Gata5 physically interact and synergize with Nkx2.5
(Durocher et al. 1997; Lee et al. 1998; Sepulveda et al.
1998), and as zebrafish Gata5 is essential for the correct
expression of nkx2.5, it is possible that mutations in
gata genes also cause human congenital heart defects. In
support of this hypothesis, gata4 haploinsufficiency has
been associated with congenital heart malformations
(Pehlivan et al. 1999). Human gata4 and gata6 map to
chromosome 8p23 (Pehlivan et al. 1999) and 18q11.1–
q11.2 (Suzuki et al. 1996), respectively. Using the Stan-
ford G3 radiation hybrid panel, we mapped human gata5
to chromosome 20q13.2–q13.3. The study of appropriate
pedigrees should determine whether gata5 also plays an
important role in human congenital heart disease.
gata5 is required for cardiac morphogenesis
and differentiation, as well as the production
of normal amounts of myocardial tissue
In this study we establish that the fau locus encodes
zebrafish Gata5, an evolutionarily conserved zinc finger
transcription factor, and that mutations in gata5 pro-
foundly disrupt cardiac development. Most conspicu-
ously, diminished Gata5 activity prevents the precardiac
mesoderm from migrating to and fusing at the embry-
onic midline, resulting in cardia bifida.
Reduced Gata5 activity also disrupts the expression of
several genes in the ALPM, including nkx2.5. The defect
in nkx2.5 expression is observable early in somitogenesis
indicating that Gata5 is required very early for proper
myocardial differentiation. As previous studies have
demonstrated that two murine nkx2.5 regulatory ele-
ments contain essential Gata-binding sites (Searcy et al.
1998; Lien et al. 1999), Gata5 may be a direct endogenous
regulator of nkx2.5. Consistent with this hypothesis,
gata5 is expressed during blastula stages in a domain
that includes the myocardial precursors, whereas we
first observe nkx2.5 expression in a subset of gata5-ex-
pressing cells only after the completion of gastrulation
(data not shown). Similar relative timing of expression of
these genes is seen during chick development (T. Evans,
Gata5 is capable of activating transcription from a
wide range of myocardial promoters in vitro (Charron
and Nemer 1999). Our results suggest that the same is
true in vivo; gata5 mutants display marked defects in the
expression of many genes encoding components of the
myocardial sarcomere (e.g., cmlc1, cmlc2, vmhc, cardiac
troponin T, tropomyosin). However, it is not clear at this
point which of these genes are direct targets of Gata5 and
which require intermediate Gata5-dependent regulators.
In fact, there may be no clear division between these
cases as Gata5 may act both directly and indirectly on a
single promoter. For example, Gata5 may participate in
the induction of nkx2.5 and also bind cooperatively with
Nkx2.5 to regulatory elements of a wide range of myo-
cardial genes. It is also interesting to note the different
requirements various sarcomeric protein genes have for
Gata5. For example, although the expression patterns of
fusion in fautm236amutants
Overexpression of wild-type gata5 restores cardiac
Number of fautm236a
mutants (by genotype)
The observed value of the test ?2(1), 17.33, indicates that the
increased rate of cardiac fusion following overexpression of
gata5 in fautm236amutants is statistically significant.
myocardial genes and beating tissue
gata5 overexpression causes ectopic expression of
gata5 and lacZ
gfp and lacZ
Embryos were scored as displaying expanded expression if ex-
pression was noted in cells adjacent to the normal domain [see
Fig. 6B,D (upper right), E,F for examples]. Embryos were scored
as displaying ectopic expression or ectopic beating tissue if tis-
sue was noted dorsally or posteriorly within the embryo in a
domain discontinuous with the ALPM or heart [see Fig. 6C,D
(bottom) for examples].
aOf the gata5-overexpressing embryos exhibiting expanded or
ectopic nkx2.5 expression, 84/84 and 46/47 of the embryos, re-
spectively, displayed increased expression within a domain of
Reiter et al.
2990 GENES & DEVELOPMENT
cmlc1 and cmlc2 are indistinguishable in wild-type em-
bryos, cmlc1 expression is more severely reduced than
cmlc2 expression in fau mutants. Perhaps these differ-
ences reflect different affinities of Gata5 for the respec-
tive cis regulatory elements.
In addition to exhibiting defects in myocardial differ-
entiation, the hearts of fau mutants at 33 hpf are very
small in comparison to those of wild-type siblings and
other cardia bifida mutants such as cas. Similarly, the
number of developing myocardial precursors is reduced
in fau mutants throughout earlier segmentation stages.
This deficit does not seem to reflect problems in ALPM
specification or maintenance as gata6 expression dem-
onstrates that the ALPM is present and morphologically
normal in gata5 mutants. Instead, Gata5 appears to play
a role in the induction, differentiation, and/or prolifera-
tion of the myocardial precursors within the ALPM.
Differentiation of the myocardium into atrial and ven-
tricular components is also defective in fau mutants. fau
myocardia preferentially form atrial tissue, indicating
that gata5 is required for ventricular induction or differ-
entiation and that the two chambers of the heart have
different requirements for gata5. However, zebrafish
gata5 does not appear to be differentially expressed in
the two chambers of the heart. Although we have not
examined the distribution of Gata5 protein, the expres-
sion pattern of the gata5 gene suggests that it is not
directly involved in patterning the cardiac chambers. In-
stead, the defect in ventricular development may be sec-
ondary to the reduced amount of myocardial tissue pro-
duced in gata5 mutants if embryos must elaborate a
threshold amount of myocardial tissue to sustain ven-
tricular induction or differentiation. Alternatively, Gata5
may act with an unidentified ventricle-specific factor to
promote ventricular development.
Taken together, these results demonstrate that Gata5
has a critical role in multiple aspects of zebrafish heart
development including the expression of nkx2.5 and
other myocardial genes, the production of a normal
amount of myocardial precursors, the morphogenesis of
both the myocardial and endocardial components of the
heart, and the differentiation of the ventricular chamber.
gata5 is required for endoderm morphogenesis
Previous expression studies have suggested a role for
Gata factors in the early development of the embryonic
endoderm (Laverriere et al. 1994; Morrisey et al. 1997a;
Bossard and Zaret 1998). Here, we have confirmed that
zebrafish gata5 is essential for the formation of normal
amounts and morphogenesis of the endoderm. Although
gut and pharyngeal endoderm lineages separate early
during zebrafish development and have distinct genetic
requirements (Alexander 1999), gata5 is necessary for
the morphogenesis of both tissues. Interestingly, Gata5
is required for the movement toward the midline of both
the heart primordia and the gut and pharyngeal endo-
derm, suggesting a causative link between these defects
or a common role of Gata5 in promoting the medial mi-
gration of several tissues.
gata5 overexpression causes the ectopic expression
of myocardial genes
We show that overexpression of zebrafish gata5 leads to
the expanded or ectopic expression of cmlc1, cmlc2,
vmhc, gata4, gata6, nkx2.5, and the MF20 and S46 myo-
sin heavy chain proteins, indicating that zebrafish Gata5
can act as a positive regulator of many myocardial genes,
even in noncardiogenic tissues. This is the first demon-
stration of the ability of a Gata factor to enhance cardio-
genesis in the context of a developing embryo. In con-
trast, overexpression of gata4 and gata5 in Xenopus does
not affect the spatial pattern of myocardial gene expres-
sion or heart morphogenesis (Jiang and Evans 1996). The
apparently different capacities of Xenopus and zebrafish
gata5 may reflect species-dependent differences in the
plasticity of cell fate or differences in the activities of the
two homologs. In fact, zebrafish Gata5 function may be
more similar to that of murine Gata4, which can also
potentiate cardiogenesis, at least in the P19 cell line
(Grepin et al. 1997).
The ability of Gata5 to induce ectopic myocardial gene
expression is not entirely unexpected, given that Gata5
regulates nkx2.5 expression and overexpression of
nkx2.5 can induce some ectopic myocardial gene expres-
sion (Chen and Fishman 1996). It will be interesting to
determine whether Nkx2.5 is an obligatory effector of
Gata5 function in myocardial cells. Another intriguing
issue concerns whether Gata5, when forcibly expressed
in noncardiogenic tissues, simply activates the transcrip-
tion of a subset of myocardial genes or whether Gata5
can reprogram an otherwise noncardiac cell to become
completely myocardial in character. The unique ability
of gata5 overexpression to produce ectopic beating tissue
suggests that, at least in some contexts, these cells ex-
hibit myocardial behavior. Therefore, both phenotypic
analysis of fau mutants and gain-of-function experi-
ments indicate that Gata5 plays an essential role in the
induction, differentiation, and/or proliferation of the
Although the normal expression of gata5 in fautm236a
mutants suggests that Gata5 does not regulate its own
expression, fau mutants exhibit modestly decreased ex-
pression of gata4, and overexpression of gata5 is able to
induce the ectopic transcription of gata4. Therefore,
Gata5 appears to positively regulate gata4, through
which Gata5 may mediate some of its effects on cardiac
differentiation. Although no defects in gata6 expression
were noted in fau mutants, gata5 overexpression can
cause ectopic gata6 expression, suggesting that Gata5
may have a redundant role in regulating gata6. Perhaps
embryos mutant for both gata4 and gata5 will reveal a
nonessential role for Gata5 in gata6 gene regulation. Pre-
vious work on mouse gata4 and gata6 mutants has dem-
onstrated that Gata4 negatively regulates gata6 in the
ALPM whereas Gata6 positively regulates gata4 in ex-
traembryonic tissues (Kuo et al. 1997; Molkentin et al.
1997; Morrisey et al. 1998). Thus, complex interregula-
tion by Gata4, Gata5, and Gata6 may have an important
Heart and gut development require gata5
GENES & DEVELOPMENT 2991
role in controlling the early events of cardiac and endo-
gata5 may act both tissue autonomously
and nonautonomously in heart development
Previous studies in both mouse and zebrafish have dem-
onstrated that cardia bifida can be secondary to defects in
endoderm development (Narita et al. 1997; Peyrieras et
al. 1998). This work leads us to hypothesize that the
cardia bifida in fau mutants is also secondary to their
severe endodermal defects. Moreover, the presence of en-
dodermal defects in the cardia bifida mutants fau, oep,
and cas (Schier et al. 1997; Alexander et al. 1999) sug-
gests that zebrafish cardia bifida may be a general con-
sequence of defects in endodermal morphogenesis or dif-
ferentiation. Conclusive experimental tests of the au-
tonomy of the morphogenetic defects in fau mutants
will require analyses of embryos in which interacting
tissues are of distinct genotypes, the production of which
is contingent on techniques not yet developed in ze-
Although the absence of cardiac fusion in fau mutants
may be secondary to endoderm defects, other cardiac ab-
normalities may be due to reduced Gata5 activity in the
ALPM. Despite the complete and early absence of gut
endoderm in cas mutants, cas myocardia exhibit no de-
fect in gene expression (Alexander et al. 1999), are larger
than fau myocardia, and contain a normal ratio of atrial
to ventricular tissue. Thus, fau mutants display defects
in gene expression, cardiac growth, and ventricular de-
velopment beyond what is attributable to the loss of en-
doderm, implicating ALPM gata5 expression in these
roles. The observation that gata5 overexpression autono-
mously promotes the ectopic expression of nkx2.5 fur-
ther suggests that Gata5 acts within cells of the ALPM to
regulate myocardial differentiation. We therefore pro-
pose that the defects in fau cardiac morphogenesis are
secondary to the reduction of Gata5 activity in the en-
doderm, whereas the additional defects in cardiac growth
and differentiation are due to the reduction of Gata5
function in the ALPM.
Zebrafish Gata5 and murine Gata4 may function
similarly during organogenesis
Although mouse gata5 null mutants have not been ex-
tensively described, they are viable (Morrisey et al.
1998), suggesting that some of the functions performed
by zebrafish Gata5 may be fulfilled by Gata4 or Gata6 in
the mouse. Unfortunately, mouse embryos deficient for
Gata4 (Kuo et al. 1997; Molkentin et al. 1997) or Gata6
(Morrisey et al. 1998; Koutsourakis et al. 1999) arrest at
embrionic day (E) 7.0–9.5 and E 5.5-7.5, respectively, im-
peding the analysis of later developmental events such as
cardiac chamber formation and the development of en-
doderm-derived organs. However, gata4 null mice and
gata5 mutant zebrafish both display cardia bifida,
prompting a comparison. gata4 null mice do not undergo
ventral closure, which has led to the idea that cardia
bifida in gata4 null mice is a direct consequence of the
defect in ventral folding. Our study, indicating that ze-
brafish cardia bifida can result from gata-dependent de-
fects in the migration of the cardiac primordia to the
embryonic midline, suggests an alternative interpreta-
tion. In zebrafish, the cardiac precursors migrate on the
yolk syncytial layer to reach the embryonic midline
(Stainier et al. 1993). Perhaps murine precardiac meso-
derm reaches the embryonic midline similarly, by ac-
tively migrating on the underlying visceral endoderm
and not through ventral folding of the body wall. In sup-
port of this hypothesis, in the mouse the midline cardio-
genic plate appears to form before the beginning of ven-
tral folding (Plate 8d in Kaufman 1992; Saga et al. 1999).
Therefore, cardia bifida in gata4 null mice may stem
from a defect in the migration of the precardiac meso-
derm to the embryonic midline in much the same way as
cardia bifida arises in mice lacking MesP1 (Saga et al.
1999). We propose that mouse gata4 is required for two
early and distinct morphogenetic processes: (1) the ini-
tial migration of the bilateral cardiac precursors to the
embryonic midline where they form the cardiogenic
plate, and (2) the subsequent ventral folding required for
foregut and ventral body-wall morphogenesis. Determin-
ing whether cardiac fusion is truly independent of ven-
tral closure will require the identification of mouse mu-
tations that inhibit ventral closure without affecting car-
In summary, we have shown that gata5 mutants show
reduced expression of nkx2.5 and that gata5 overexpres-
sion leads to ectopic nkx2.5 expression. These data to-
gether with the demonstrated presence of Gata-binding
sites in nkx2.5 regulatory elements indicate that gata5
functions upstream of nkx2.5 to initiate myocardial dif-
ferentiation. Further studies will be required to identify
additional regulators of heart and endoderm develop-
ment that function downstream of or in combination
Materials and methods
Zebrafish strains and maintenance
Zebrafish were maintained and staged as described (Westerfield
Whole-mount in situ hybridization
We performed in situ hybridization as described (Alexander et
al. 1998); in certain cases, embryos older than 28 hpf were in-
cubated in 0.003% phenylthiourea to inhibit pigmentation. The
gata4 (GenBank accession no. AF191577) and gata6 (GenBank
accession no. AF191578; previously called gata5 in Pack et al.
1996) genes were isolated in Leonard Zon’s laboratory (Harvard
Medical School, Boston, MA; unpubl.). Full-length cDNA was
used as the template for the gata6 riboprobe, but the gata4
riboprobe was generated from a truncated cDNA comprised of
the first 954 bp. The gata5 riboprobe is described below. The
cmlc1 gene (GenBank accession no. AF119163) was isolated as
Reiter et al.
2992GENES & DEVELOPMENT
described (Yelon et al. 1999). As fau mutants younger than 24
hpf could not be phenotypically distinguished from wild-type
siblings, earlier stage embryos were genotyped post in situ hy-
bridization to confirm that any defects in gene expression seg-
regated with the fau mutation. Briefly, this entailed serial rehy-
dration with PBS + 0.1% Tween, proteinase K digestion at 55°C
overnight, and PCR genotyping with a tightly linked marker.
Immunohistochemistry using the antibodies MF20 and S46
(generous gift of F. Stockdale, Stanford University, Palo Alto,
CA) was performed as described (Alexander et al. 1998). MF20
was obtained from the Developmental Studies Hybridoma
Bank, maintained by the Department of Biological Studies, Uni-
versity of Iowa, Ames under contract NO1-HD-2-3144 from the
National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD).
?-Galactosidase staining was performed as described (Rod-
away et al. 1999).
The mapping strain was constructed by crossing a fau Tu ¨ male
heterozygote to a WIK female. Genomic DNA extraction from
zebrafish embryos was performed as described (Westerfield
1995), except that proteinase K digestion was done for 2–4 hr. By
using only those embryos recombinant at simple sequence
length polymorphisms flanking fau in a search for AFLPs, we
successfully restricted our identified markers to those that
mapped within a useful genetic distance of fau. Otherwise,
AFLP selection was performed as described (Vos et al. 1995). An
AFLP marker linked to the fau mutation (primers: 5?-
AAGAGAGCGAGCACTGCTACTAC-3? and 5?-CAGCTTTC-
CCATATTCTGGC-3?) and an amplicon from the gata5 3? UTR
(primers: 5?-TGATCCGAGACCTCCAC-3? and 5?-CTCCC-
GATCATTGGAAC-3?) were placed on the Goodfellow ze-
brafish radiation hybrid panel (Research Genetics). These mark-
ers are separated by 14 cR (lod score 18.96). Human gata5 was
mapped using primers designed from the sequence of EST
W00677 (primers: 5?-AGACCACCCACTGAGTCACC-3? and
5?-GGAGTCCCTTGCTGTACGTG-3?) on the Stanford G3 ra-
diation hybrid panel (Research Genetics). Human gata5 is
linked to marker SHGC-57473 with a lod score of 18.28.
PAC library screen and linkage analysis
A PAC library was screened by PCR as pools of clones using
primers that amplify the gata5 3? UTR. Internal PAC sequenc-
ing was performed using the primer 5?-ACACTGTGGAG-
GAGAAACGCA-3?. A single-strand conformational polymor-
phism identified at one end of a PAC clone containing gata5
was linked to the fautm236amutation in all of 272 gynogenetic
haploid embryos examined. Additionally, a BsmFI RFLP at po-
sition 380 in the gata5 gene was linked to fautm236ain all of 160
diploid embryos examined. The 400-bp region containing the
RFLP was amplified by PCR (primers: 5?-GTACCAGCCAT-
GCTCCAGAC-3? and 5?-CTCCTTCCCGGTAGAGTTCC-3?).
The faus26mutation was linked to SSRP z4003 in all of 40
gynogenetic haploid embryos examined. Amplification of SS-
RPs flanking gata5 from faus26genomic DNA failed to reveal
evidence of a deletion.
Isolation of gata5 cDNA
Total RNA was isolated using Trizol (Gibco BRL). Reverse tran-
scription was performed using Superscript II (Gibco BRL). The
gata5 ORF was amplified by PCR (primers: 5?-GGACGTT-
GACAAGGTTTTTACTAG-3? and 5?-GTCTGTCTACATTT-
GTGTAAAAGTCC-3?). The 1330-bp product was cloned into
the pGEM-T vector (Promega) and sequenced using an ABI 377
DNA sequencer. We sequenced 20 independent clones of mu-
tant-derived and 8 independent clones of wild-type-derived
gata5 cDNA (one of which was used as the template for the
gata5 riboprobe). Among the mutant-derived clones, the 31-bp
insertion was represented by 17 clones, the 30-bp deletion was
represented by 2 clones, and the wild-type cDNA was detected
once. PCR analysis using a primer bridging the wild-type splice
site (primer: 5?-GCTTCATGGGGTACCAAGG-3?) confirmed
that wild-type gata5 message is detectable in fautm236amutants.
Although the amount of gata5 mRNA is profoundly dimin-
ished in faus26mutants, low levels were detectable by RT–PCR
performed as above. Sequencing of the subcloned RT–PCR prod-
ucts indicated that faus26is not a mutation in the gata5 coding
sequence or UTRs.
gata5 gene structure
PCR of genomic amplicons and subsequent sequencing revealed
that the first intron (723 bp) is present 3? of cDNA nucleotide
602, the second intron (1207 bp) is present 3? of cDNA nucleo-
tide 771, the third intron (1.6 kb) is present 3? of cDNA nucleo-
tide 901, and the fourth intron (343 bp) is present 3? of cDNA
nucleotide 986. Additional internal PAC sequencing upstream
of the transcriptional start site using the primer 5?-GGCTAGT-
TAAAAACCTTGTCAACG-3? revealed a putative promoter se-
quence containing a consensus TATA box and several potential
Gata-binding elements. Sequencing of this region in faus26mu-
tants failed to identify a mutation.
gata5 mRNA injection
Full-length, capped mRNA was generated from pCS2:gata5,
pCS2:tm236-1:MT, and pGST:GFP using the SP6 mMESSAGE
mMACHINE system (Ambion). pCS2:tm236-1:MT was created
by subcloning the coding sequence of the gata5 cDNA species
most frequently isolated from fautm236amutants into pCS2:MT.
For embryonic overexpression, 20 or 50 pg of mRNA was mi-
croinjected at the 1–4 cell stage. For autonomy studies, 100 pg of
lacZ mRNA was coinjected. To restrict overexpression to the
YSL, mRNA was microinjected directly into the YSL at the
512-cell stage. Injected embryos were raised to 11–36 hpf for in
situ hybridization or to 30 hpf for immunohistochemical analy-
sis. After phenotypic analysis, embryos were genotyped as de-
We dedicate this paper to the memory of Nigel Holder. We
thank Sarah Howard, Ken Nakashima, Alex Navarro, and Elliot
Perens for invaluable assistance; members of the Stainier labo-
ratory, Brian Black, Todd Evans, Richard Harvey, Ira Hersko-
witz, and Patrick Tam for helpful discussions and/or com-
ments; Joseph DeYoung and Travis Taylor for sequencing; Len
Zon for providing gata4 and gata6; and Frank Stockdale for gen-
erously providing the S46 antibody. J.F.R. and J.A. are members
of the Medical Scientist Training Program of the National In-
stitutes of Health. D.Y. is an Amgen fellow of the Life Sciences
Research Foundation. This work was supported by the Ameri-
can Heart Association (J.A. and D.Y.R.S.), the Medical Research
Council and Wellcome Trust (A.R., N.H., and R.P.), the Packard
Foundation and the Life and Health Insurance Medical Research
The publication costs of this article were defrayed in part by
payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby
Heart and gut development require gata5
GENES & DEVELOPMENT 2993
marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 USC section
1734 solely to indicate this fact.
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