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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Analysis of transcriptional targets of SOX9 during embryonic heart valve development reveals a critical network of transcription factors Garside, Victoria C.


Cardiac malformations affect approximately 1% of human newborns and a large number of these are due to defects in the heart valves and septum. It has been suggested that cardiac valve diseases, which make up about one third of all cardiovascular defects, arise from underlying developmental malformations that occur during embryogenesis. Interestingly, the development of the heart valves (cardiac cushions) and tissues that form cartilage templates (such as the limb) share a number of key TFs, such as TWIST1, SOX9, and NFATC1 suggesting that they have similar transcriptional programs. It has been proposed that regulatory networks involved in cartilage formation, are also active during valve development and disease. The transcription factor SOX9 has an essential role in heart valve and cartilage formation and its loss leads to major congenital abnormalities in the embryo. Regardless of this critical role, little is known about how SOX9 regulates heart valve development or its transcriptional targets. Therefore, to identify transcriptional targets of SOX9 and elucidate the role of SOX9 in the developing valves, we have used ChIP-Seq on the E12.5 atrioventricular canal (heart valves) and limb buds. Comparisons of SOX9DNA-binding regions among tissues revealed both context-dependent and context–independent SOX9 interacting regions. Context-independent SOX9 binding suggests that SOX9 may play a role in regulating proliferation-associated genes across many tissues. Generation of two endothelial specific Sox9 mutants uncovers two potential roles for SOX9 in heart valve formation: first in the initial formation of valve mesenchyme and later in the survival and differentiation of valve mesenchyme. Analysis of tissue-specific SOX9-DNA binding regions with gene expression profiles from Sox9 mutant heart valves indicates that SOX9 directly regulates a collection of transcription factors known to be important for heart development. Taken together, this study identified that SOX9 controls transcriptional hierarchies involved in proliferation across tissues and heart valve differentiation. SOX9 transcriptional targets identified in this data could be used as predictive factors of heart valve disease, or as targets for new therapeutic strategies for disease and congenital defects.

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