UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Coordinated regulation of the snail family of transcription factors by the notch and tgf-0 pathways during heart development Niessen, Kyle


The Notch and TGF13 signaling pathways have been shown to play important roles in regulating endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) during cardiac morphogenesis. EndMT is the process by which endocardial cells of the atrioventricular canal and the outflow tract repress endothelial cell phenotype and upregulate mesenchymal cell phenotype. EndMT is initiated by inductive signals emanating from the overlying myocardium and inter-endothelial signals and generate the cells that form the heart valves and atrioventricular septum. The Notch and TGFf3 pathway are thought to act in parallel to modulate endothelial phenotype and promote EndMT. Vascular endothelial (VE) cadherin is a key regulator of cardiac endothelial cell phenotype and must be downregulated during EndMT. Accordingly, VE-cadherin expression remains stabilized in the atrioventricular canal and outflow tract of Notchl-deficient mouse embryos, while activation of the Notch or TGFP pathways results in decreased VE-cadherin expression in endothelial cells. However, the downstream target gene(s) that are involved in regulating endothelial cell phenotype and VE-cadherin expression remain largely unknown. In this thesis the transcriptional repressor Slug is demonstrated to be expressed by the mesenchymal cells and a subset of endocardial cells of the atrioventricular canal and outflowtract during cardiac morphogenesis. Slug is demonstrated to be required for cardiac development through its role in regulating EndMT in the cardiac cushion. Data presented in Chapter 6 further suggests that Slug-deficiency in the mouse is compensated for by a increase in Snail expression after embryonic day (E) 9.5, which restores EndMT in the cardiac cushions. Additionally, the Notch pathway, via CSL, directly binds and regulates expression of the Slug promoter, while a close Slug family member, Snail is regulated by the TGFB pathway in endothelial cells. While Notch does not directly regulate Snail expression, Notch and TGFB act synergistically to regulate Snail expression in endothelial cells. It is further demonstrated that Slug is required for Notch mediated EndMT, binds to and represses the VE-cadherin promoter, and induces a motile phenotype. Collectively the data demonstrate that Notch signaling directly regulates Slug, but not Snail, expression and that the combined expression of Slug and Snail are required for cardiac cushion morphogenesis.

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