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J Biol Chem. 1994 Jun 17;269(24):16961-70.

Chamber specification of atrial myosin light chain-2 expression precedes septation during murine cardiogenesis.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, La Jolla 92093.


To study the molecular mechanisms that control patterning of the heart tube during early cardiogenesis, we have used the ventricular myosin regulatory light chain (MLC-2v), which is expressed in the ventricular segment of the primitive heart tube, as a genetic marker for ventricular specification in rodents. To assess whether the atrial isoform, MLC-2a, could also serve as a chamber-specific marker, we cloned an atrial MLC-2 cDNA (554 base pairs) which displayed homology to the human MLC-2a cDNA at both the nucleotide (87%) and amino acid (95%) levels. Northern blot, reverse transcriptase-linked polymerase chain reaction, RNase protection, and Western blot analysis revealed atrial restricted expression in the adult mouse heart, very low levels in aorta, and no detectable expression in ventricle, skeletal muscle, uterus, or liver. In situ hybridization studies during mouse embryogenesis revealed cardiac specific expression throughout days 8-16 postcoitum, with atrial restricted expression from day 12 and qualitatively greater atrial expression than ventricular from day 9. Thus, preferential pattern of expression in the atria occurs prior to septation. The MLC-2a gene was differentially regulated when compared with MLC-2v expression during embryonic stem cell cardiogenesis in vitro with MLC-2a transcript levels detectable from day 6 in suspension cultures as compared with day 9 for MLC-2v. The region-specific expression of the MLC-2a and MLC-2v genes in their respective chambers during early cardiogenesis provides genetic markers for chamber specification (atrial and ventricular) in both the in vitro and in vivo context.

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