Cardiac interstitial cells express GATA4 and control dedifferentiation and cell cycle re-entry of adult cardiomyocytes
Interstitial cells of the adult rat heart were characterized with respect to i) expression of cardiac markers of commitment and differentiation, ii) myogenic potential in vitro and iii) ability to modulate cardiomyocyte differentiation state. We demonstrate for the first time that fibroblasts and a proportion of pericytes in the adult rat heart express the transcription factor GATA4. This appears to be a peculiar property of the heart. Fibroblasts that are also derived from the splanchnopleuric mesoderm, such as those of the gut, or fibroblasts of different embryological origin, such as those of skin and skeletal muscle, lack this property. Of note, a nestin+/GATA4+ putative stem cell population is also detected in the adult heart. GATA4+ cardiac interstitial cells do not display myogenic potential in vitro. However, cardiac fibroblasts, but not skin fibroblasts, stimulate dedifferentiation of adult cardiomyocytes and their re-entry into the cell cycle in vitro, as demonstrated by the high number of cardiomyocytes expressing Ki67, phosphorylated histone H3 (H3P) and incorporating 5-bromodeoxiuridine (BrdU) in the co-cultures. In conclusion, cardiac fibroblasts have peculiar expression of myogenic transcription factors, a property that may have an impact for reprogramming these cells to the myogenic differentiation. In addition, they are able to modulate the behavior of adult cardiomyocytes, a property that may be used to promote dedifferentiation and proliferation of cardiac cells in the damaged myocardium.
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