Epigenetic mechanisms in cardiac development and disease

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Abstract

During mammalian development, cardiac specification and ultimately lineage commitment to a specific cardiac cell type is accomplished by the action of specific transcription factors (TFs) and their meticulous control on an epigenetic level. In this review, we detail how cardiac-specific TFs function in concert with nucleosome remodeling and histone-modifying enzymes to regulate a diverse network of genes required for processes such as cell growth and proliferation, or epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), for instance. We provide examples of how several cardiac TFs, such as Nkx2.5, WHSC1, Tbx5, and Tbx1, which are associated with developmental and congenital heart defects, are required for the recruitment of histone modifiers, such as Jarid2, p300, and Ash2l, and components of ATP-dependent remodeling enzymes like Brg1, Baf60c, and Baf180. Binding of these TFs to their respective sites at cardiac genes coincides with a distinct pattern of histone marks, indicating that the precise regulation of cardiac gene networks is orchestrated by interactions between TFs and epigenetic modifiers. Furthermore, we speculate that an epigenetic signature, comprised of TF occupancy, histone modifications, and overall chromatin organization, is an underlying mechanism that governs cardiac morphogenesis and disease.

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