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Dev Biol. 2012 Jan 15;361(2):439-49. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.10.023. Epub 2011 Oct 26.

ETS-dependent regulation of a distal Gata4 cardiac enhancer.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Research Institute and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94158-2517, USA.


The developing heart contains an inner tube of specialized endothelium known as endocardium, which performs multiple essential functions. In spite of the essential role of the endocardium in heart development and function, the transcriptional pathways that regulate its development remain largely undefined. GATA4 is a zinc finger transcription factor that is expressed in multiple cardiovascular lineages and is required for endocardial cushion development and embryonic viability, but the transcriptional pathways upstream of Gata4 in the endocardium and its derivatives in the endocardial cushions are unknown. Here, we describe a distal enhancer from the mouse Gata4 gene that is briefly active in multiple cardiac lineages early in cardiac development but restricts to the endocardium where it remains active through cardiogenesis. The activity of this Gata4 cardiac enhancer in transgenic embryos and in cultured aortic endothelial cells is dependent on four ETS sites. To identify which ETS transcription factors might be involved in Gata4 regulation via the ETS sites in the enhancer, we determined the expression profile of 24 distinct ETS factors in embryonic mouse hearts. Among multiple ETS transcripts present, ETS1, FLI1, ETV1, ETV5, ERG, and ETV6 were the most abundant in the early embryonic heart. We found that ETS1, FLI1, and ERG were strongly expressed in the heart at embryonic day 8.5 and that ETS1 and ERG bound to the endogenous Gata4 enhancer in cultured endothelial cells. Thus, these studies define the ETS expression profile in the early embryonic heart and identify an ETS-dependent enhancer from the Gata4 locus.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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