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Development. 2005 Feb;132(3):553-63. Epub 2005 Jan 5.

Tbx5 and Tbx20 act synergistically to control vertebrate heart morphogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Fordham Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280, USA.


Members of the T-box family of proteins play a fundamental role in patterning the developing vertebrate heart; however, the precise cellular requirements for any one family member and the mechanism by which individual T-box genes function remains largely unknown. In this study, we have investigated the cellular and molecular relationship between two T-box genes, Tbx5 and Tbx20. We demonstrate that blocking Tbx5 or Tbx20 produces phenotypes that display a high degree of similarity, as judged by overall gross morphology, molecular marker analysis and cardiac physiology, implying that the two genes are required for and have non-redundant functions in early heart development. In addition, we demonstrate that although co-expressed, Tbx5 and Tbx20 are not dependent on the expression of one another, but rather have a synergistic role during early heart development. Consistent with this proposal, we show that TBX5 and TBX20 can physically interact and map the interaction domains, and we show a cellular interaction for the two proteins in cardiac development, thus providing the first evidence for direct interaction between members of the T-box gene family.

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