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Dev Biol. 2000 Feb 15;218(2):146-60.

Hsp25 and the p38 MAPK pathway are involved in differentiation of cardiomyocytes.

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  • 1Département de Biologie, Unité de Génétique Moléculaire, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 46 rue d'Ulm, Paris Cedex 05, 75230, France. DAVIDSON@WOTAN.ENS.FR


The small heat-shock protein HSP25 is expressed in the heart early during development, and although multiple roles for HSP25 have been proposed, its specific role during development and differentiation is not known. P19 is an embryonal carcinoma cell line which can be induced to differentiate in vitro into either cardiomyocytes or neurons. We have used P19 to examine the role of HSP25 in differentiation. We found that HSP25 expression is strongly increased in P19 cardiomyocytes. Antisense HSP25 expression reduced the extent of cardiomyocyte differentiation and resulted in reduced expression of cardiac actin and the intermediate filament desmin and reduced level of cardiac mRNAs. Thus, HSP25 is necessary for differentiation of P19 into cardiomyocytes. In contrast, P19 neurons did not express HSP25 and antisense HSP25 expression had no effect on neuronal differentiation. The phosphorylation of HSP25 by the p38/SAPK2 pathway is known to be important for certain of its functions. Inhibition of this pathway by the specific inhibitor SB203580 prevented cardiomyocyte differentiation of P19 cells. In contrast, PD90589, which inhibits the ERK1/2 pathway, had no effect. Surprisingly, cardiogenesis was only sensitive to SB203580 during the first 2 days of differentiation, before HSP25 expression increases. In contrast to the effect of antisense HSP25, SB203580 reduced the level of expression of the mesodermal marker Brachyury-T during differentiation. Therefore, we propose that the p38 pathway acts on an essential target during early cardiogenesis. Once this initial step is complete, HSP25 is necessary for the functional differentiation of P19 cardiomyocytes, but its phosphorylation by p38/SAPK2 is not required.

Copyright 2000 Academic Press.

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