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Nucleic Acids Res. 2018 Apr 6;46(6):2850-2867. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky049.

A context-specific cardiac β-catenin and GATA4 interaction influences TCF7L2 occupancy and remodels chromatin driving disease progression in the adult heart.

Author information

Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University Medical Center Goettingen, Georg-August University, Goettingen 37075, Germany.
German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) partner site Goettingen, Goettingen 37075, Germany.
Clinic for General, Visceral and Pediatric Surgery, University Medical Center Goettingen, Georg-August University, Goettingen 37075, Germany.
Cancer Research UK (CRUK-CI), Cambridge CB2 0RE, UK.
Department of Cardiology and Pneumology, University Medical Center Goettingen, Georg-August University, Goettingen 37075, Germany.


Chromatin remodelling precedes transcriptional and structural changes in heart failure. A body of work suggests roles for the developmental Wnt signalling pathway in cardiac remodelling. Hitherto, there is no evidence supporting a direct role of Wnt nuclear components in regulating chromatin landscapes in this process. We show that transcriptionally active, nuclear, phosphorylated(p)Ser675-β-catenin and TCF7L2 are upregulated in diseased murine and human cardiac ventricles. We report that inducible cardiomyocytes (CM)-specific pSer675-β-catenin accumulation mimics the disease situation by triggering TCF7L2 expression. This enhances active chromatin, characterized by increased H3K27ac and TCF7L2 occupancies to cardiac developmental and remodelling genes in vivo. Accordingly, transcriptomic analysis of β-catenin stabilized hearts shows a strong recapitulation of cardiac developmental processes like cell cycling and cytoskeletal remodelling. Mechanistically, TCF7L2 co-occupies distal genomic regions with cardiac transcription factors NKX2-5 and GATA4 in stabilized-β-catenin hearts. Validation assays revealed a previously unrecognized function of GATA4 as a cardiac repressor of the TCF7L2/β-catenin complex in vivo, thereby defining a transcriptional switch controlling disease progression. Conversely, preventing β-catenin activation post-pressure-overload results in a downregulation of these novel TCF7L2-targets and rescues cardiac function. Thus, we present a novel role for TCF7L2/β-catenin in CMs-specific chromatin modulation, which could be exploited for manipulating the ubiquitous Wnt pathway.

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