Developmental biology

DAAM1 and DAAM2 are co-required for myocardial maturation and sarcomere assembly.

PMID 26526197


Wnt ligands regulate heart morphogenesis but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Two Formin-related proteins, DAAM1 and 2, were previously found to bind the Wnt effector Disheveled. Here, since DAAM1 and 2 nucleate actin and mediate Wnt-induced cytoskeletal changes, a floxed-allele of Daam1 was used to disrupt its function specifically in the myocardium and investigate Wnt-associated pathways. Homozygous Daam1 conditional knockout (CKO) mice were viable but had misshapen hearts and poor cardiac function. The defects in Daam1 CKO mice were observed by mid-gestation and were associated with a loss of protrusions from cardiomyocytes invading the outflow tract. Further, these mice exhibited noncompaction cardiomyopathy (NCM) and deranged cardiomyocyte polarity. Interestingly, Daam1 CKO mice that were also homozygous for an insertion disrupting Daam2 (DKO) had stronger NCM, severely reduced cardiac function, disrupted sarcomere structure, and increased myocardial proliferation, suggesting that DAAM1 and DAAM2 have redundant functions. While RhoA was unaffected in the hearts of Daam1/2 DKO mice, AKT activity was lower than in controls, raising the issue of whether DAAM1/2 are only mediating Wnt signaling. Daam1-floxed mice were thus bred to Wnt5a null mice to identify genetic interactions. The hearts of Daam1 CKO mice that were also heterozygous for the null allele of Wnt5a had stronger NCM and more severe loss of cardiac function than Daam1 CKO mice, consistent with DAAM1 and Wnt5a acting in a common pathway. However, deleting Daam1 further disrupted Wnt5a homozygous-null hearts, suggesting that DAAM1 also has Wnt5a-independent roles in cardiac development.