A Wnt- and β-catenin-dependent pathway for mammalian cardiac myogenesis

Center for Cardiovascular Development and Department of Biochemistry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 06/2003; 100(10):5834-9. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0935626100
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Acquisition of a cardiac fate by embryonic mesodermal cells is a fundamental step in heart formation. Heart development in frogs and avians requires positive signals from adjacent endoderm, including bone morphogenic proteins, and is antagonized by a second secreted signal, Wnt proteins, from neural tube. By contrast, mechanisms of mesodermal commitment to create heart muscle in mammals are largely unknown. In addition, Wnt-dependent signals can involve either a canonical beta-catenin pathway or other, alternative mediators. Here, we tested the involvement of Wnts and beta-catenin in mammalian cardiac myogenesis by using a pluripotent mouse cell line (P19CL6) that recapitulates early steps for cardiac specification. In this system, early and late cardiac genes are up-regulated by 1% DMSO, and spontaneous beating occurs. Notably, Wnt3A and Wnt8A were induced days before even the earliest cardiogenic transcription factors. DMSO induced biochemical mediators of Wnt signaling (decreased phosphorylation and increased levels of beta-catenin), which were suppressed by Frizzled-8Fc, a soluble Wnt antagonist. DMSO provoked T cell factor-dependent transcriptional activity; thus, induction of Wnt proteins by DMSO was functionally coupled. Frizzled-8Fc inhibited the induction of cardiogenic transcription factors, cardiogenic growth factors, and sarcomeric myosin heavy chains. Likewise, differentiation was blocked by constitutively active glycogen synthase kinase 3beta, an intracellular inhibitor of the Wntbeta-catenin pathway. Conversely, lithium chloride, which inhibits glycogen synthase kinase 3beta, and Wnt3A-conditioned medium up-regulated early cardiac markers and the proportion of differentiated cells. Thus, Wntbeta-catenin signaling is activated at the inception of mammalian cardiac myogenesis and is indispensable for cardiac differentiation, at least in this pluripotent model system.

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