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Development. 2013 Aug;140(16):3395-402. doi: 10.1242/dev.097360. Epub 2013 Jul 17.

Bmp signaling represses Vegfa to promote outflow tract cushion development.

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Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a devastating anomaly that affects ∼1% of live births. Defects of the outflow tract (OFT) make up a large percentage of human CHD. We investigated Bmp signaling in mouse OFT development by conditionally deleting both Bmp4 and Bmp7 in the second heart field (SHF). SHF Bmp4/7 deficiency resulted in defective epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and reduced cardiac neural crest ingress, with resultant persistent truncus arteriosus. Using a candidate gene approach, we found that Vegfa was upregulated in the Bmp4/7 mutant hearts. To determine if Vegfa is a downstream Bmp effector during EMT, we examined whether Vegfa is transcriptionally regulated by the Bmp receptor-regulated Smad. Our findings indicate that Smad directly binds to Vegfa chromatin and represses Vegfa transcriptional activity. We also found that Vegfa is a direct target for the miR-17-92 cluster, which is also regulated by Bmp signaling in the SHF. Deletion of miR-17-92 reveals similar phenotypes to Bmp4/7 SHF deletion. To directly address the function of Vegfa repression in Bmp-mediated EMT, we performed ex vivo explant cultures from Bmp4/7 and miR-17-92 mutant hearts. EMT was defective in explants from the Bmp4/7 double conditional knockout (dCKO; Mef2c-Cre;Bmp4/7(f/f)) and miR-17-92 null. By antagonizing Vegfa activity in explants, EMT was rescued in Bmp4/7 dCKO and miR-17-92 null culture. Moreover, overexpression of miR-17-92 partially suppressed the EMT defect in Bmp4/7 mutant embryos. Our study reveals that Vegfa levels in the OFT are tightly controlled by Smad- and microRNA-dependent pathways to modulate OFT development.


Bone morphogenetic protein; Epithelial to mesenchymal transition; Mouse; Outflow tract; Vascular endothelial growth factor A; microRNA

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