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Anat Rec. 2000 Feb 1;258(2):119-27.

Mechanisms involved in valvuloseptal endocardial cushion formation in early cardiogenesis: roles of transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP).

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Department of Anatomy, Saitama Medical School, Saitama 350-0495,


Endothelial-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) is a critical event in the generation of the endocardial cushion, the primordia of the valves and septa of the adult heart. This embryonic phenomenon occurs in the outflow tract (OT) and atrioventricular (AV) canal of the embryonic heart in a spatiotemporally restricted manner, and is initiated by putative myocardially derived inductive signals (adherons) which are transferred to the endocardium across the cardiac jelly. Abnormal development of endocardial cushion tissue is linked to many congenital heart diseases. At the onset of EMT in chick cardiogenesis, transforming growth factor (TGFbeta)-3 is expressed in transforming endothelial and invading mesenchymal cells, while bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2 is expressed in the subjacent myocardium. Three-dimensional collagen gel culture experiments of the AV endocardium show that 1) myocardially derived inductive signals upregulate the expression of AV endothelial TGFbeta3 at the onset of EMT, 2) TGFbeta3 needs to be expressed by these endothelial cells to trigger the initial phenotypic changes of EMT, and 3) myocardial BMP2 acts synergistically with TGFbeta3 in the initiation of EMT.

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