Myocardial Notch Signaling Reprograms Cardiomyocytes to a Conduction-Like Phenotype

Cardiovascular Institute, University of Pennsylvania, 421 Curie Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Circulation (Impact Factor: 14.43). 07/2012; 126(9):1058-66. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.103390
Source: PubMed


Notch signaling has previously been shown to play an essential role in regulating cell fate decisions and differentiation during cardiogenesis in many systems including Drosophila, Xenopus, and mammals. We hypothesized that Notch may also be involved in directing the progressive lineage restriction of cardiomyocytes into specialized conduction cells.
In hearts where Notch signaling is activated within the myocardium from early development onward, Notch promotes a conduction-like phenotype based on ectopic expression of conduction system-specific genes and cell autonomous changes in electrophysiology. With the use of an in vitro assay to activate Notch in newborn cardiomyocytes, we observed global changes in the transcriptome, and in action potential characteristics, consistent with reprogramming to a conduction-like phenotype.
Notch can instruct the differentiation of chamber cardiac progenitors into specialized conduction-like cells. Plasticity remains in late-stage cardiomyocytes, which has potential implications for engineering of specialized cardiovascular tissues.

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    • "These data indicate that Notch signalling is required for expansion of cardiac stem cells and immature cardiomyocytes but that needs to be downregulated to achieve terminal differentiation. Transient Notch 1 re-activation in cardiomyocytes induces transcription of genes conferring a contractile phenotype.29 Additionally, Notch 1 re-activation in cardiomyocytes in ischemic heart reduces apoptosis by activating Akt, a pathway linked to cell survival.30 "
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