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PloS one

Twist1 directly regulates genes that promote cell proliferation and migration in developing heart valves.


PMID 22242143

Abstract

Twist1, a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor, is expressed in mesenchymal precursor populations during embryogenesis and in metastatic cancer cells. In the developing heart, Twist1 is highly expressed in endocardial cushion (ECC) valve mesenchymal cells and is down regulated during valve differentiation and remodeling. Previous studies demonstrated that Twist1 promotes cell proliferation, migration, and expression of primitive extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules in ECC mesenchymal cells. Furthermore, Twist1 expression is induced in human pediatric and adult diseased heart valves. However, the Twist1 downstream target genes that mediate increased cell proliferation and migration during early heart valve development remain largely unknown. Candidate gene and global gene profiling approaches were used to identify transcriptional targets of Twist1 during heart valve development. Candidate target genes were analyzed for evolutionarily conserved regions (ECRs) containing E-box consensus sequences that are potential Twist1 binding sites. ECRs containing conserved E-box sequences were identified for Twist1 responsive genes Tbx20, Cdh11, Sema3C, Rab39b, and Gadd45a. Twist1 binding to these sequences in vivo was determined by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, and binding was detected in ECCs but not late stage remodeling valves. In addition identified Twist1 target genes are highly expressed in ECCs and have reduced expression during heart valve remodeling in vivo, which is consistent with the expression pattern of Twist1. Together these analyses identify multiple new genes involved in cell proliferation and migration that are differentially expressed in the developing heart valves, are responsive to Twist1 transcriptional function, and contain Twist1-responsive regulatory sequences.