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Mol Biol Cell. 2006 Sep;17(9):3978-88. Epub 2006 Jun 14.

The NADPH oxidase NOX4 drives cardiac differentiation: Role in regulating cardiac transcription factors and MAP kinase activation.

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Laboratory of Biology of Aging, Department of Rehabilitation and Geriatrics, Geneva University Hospitals, 1225 Chêne-Bourg, Switzerland.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by the NOX family of NADPH oxidases have been described to act as second messengers regulating cell growth and differentiation. However, such a function has hitherto not been convincingly demonstrated. We investigated the role of NOX-derived ROS in cardiac differentiation using mouse embryonic stem cells. ROS scavengers prevented the appearance of spontaneously beating cardiac cells within embryoid bodies. Down-regulation of NOX4, the major NOX isoform present during early stages of differentiation, suppressed cardiogenesis. This was rescued by a pulse of low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide 4 d before spontaneous beating appears. Mechanisms of ROS-dependent signaling included p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation and nuclear translocation of the cardiac transcription factor myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C). Our results provide first molecular evidence that the NOX family of NADPH oxidases regulate vertebrate developmental processes.

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