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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jan 20;106(3):814-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807583106. Epub 2009 Jan 7.

Nkx2-5 transactivates the Ets-related protein 71 gene and specifies an endothelial/endocardial fate in the developing embryo.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75244, USA.


Recent studies support the existence of a common progenitor for the cardiac and endothelial cell lineages, but the underlying transcriptional networks responsible for specification of these cell fates remain unclear. Here we demonstrated that Ets-related protein 71 (Etsrp71), a newly discovered ETS family transcription factor, was a novel downstream target of the homeodomain protein, Nkx2-5. Using genetic mouse models and molecular biological techniques, we demonstrated that Nkx2-5 binds to an evolutionarily conserved Nkx2-5 response element in the Etsrp71 promoter and induces the Etsrp71 gene expression in vitro and in vivo. Etsrp71 was transiently expressed in the endocardium/endothelium of the developing embryo (E7.75-E9.5) and was extinguished during the latter stages of development. Using a gene disruption strategy, we found that Etsrp71 mutant embryos lacked endocardial/endothelial lineages and were nonviable. Moreover, using transgenic technologies and transcriptional and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we further established that Tie2 is a direct downstream target of Etsrp71. Collectively, our results uncover a novel functional role for Nkx2-5 and define a transcriptional network that specifies an endocardial/endothelial fate in the developing heart and embryo.

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