Essential and Unexpected Role of Yin Yang 1 to Promote Mesodermal Cardiac Differentiation
Rationale: Cardiogenesis is regulated by a complex interplay between transcription factors. However, little is known about how these interactions regulate the transition from mesodermal precursors to cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs).
Objective: To identify novel regulators of mesodermal cardiac lineage commitment.
Methods and Results: We performed a bioinformatic-based transcription factor binding site analysis on upstream promoter regions of genes that are enriched in embryonic stem cell–derived CPCs. From 32 candidate transcription factors screened, we found that Yin Yang 1 (YY1), a repressor of sarcomeric gene expression, is present in CPCs in vivo. Interestingly, we uncovered the ability of YY1 to transcriptionally activate Nkx2.5, a key marker of early cardiogenic commitment. YY1 regulates Nkx2.5 expression via a 2.1-kb cardiac-specific enhancer as demonstrated by in vitro luciferase-based assays, in vivo chromatin immunoprecipitation, and genome-wide sequencing analysis. Furthermore, the ability of YY1 to activate Nkx2.5 expression depends on its cooperative interaction with Gata4 at a nearby chromatin. Cardiac mesoderm–specific loss-of-function of YY1 resulted in early embryonic lethality. This was corroborated in vitro by embryonic stem cell–based assays in which we showed that the overexpression of YY1 enhanced the cardiogenic differentiation of embryonic stem cells into CPCs.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate an essential and unexpected role for YY1 to promote cardiogenesis as a transcriptional activator of Nkx2.5 and other CPC-enriched genes.
- Received October 19, 2012.
- Revision received January 7, 2013.
- Accepted January 9, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.