The molecular mechanism that regulates epicardial development has yet to be understood. In this study, we explored the function of CDX1, a Caudal-related family member, in epicardial epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and in the migration and the differentiation of epicardium-derived progenitors into vascular smooth muscle cells. We detected a transient expression of CDX1 in murine embryonic hearts at 11.5 days post coitum (dpc). Using a doxycycline-inducible CDX1 mouse model, primary epicardium, and ex vivo heart culture, we further demonstrated that ectopic expression of CDX1 promoted epicardial EMT. In addition, a low-dose CDX1 induction led to enhanced migration and differentiation of epicardium-derived cells into α-SMA+ vascular smooth muscles. In contrast, either continued high-level induction of CDX1 or CDX1 deficiency attenuated the ability of epicardium-derived cells to migrate and to mature into smooth muscles induced by TGF-β1. Further RNA-seq analyses showed that CDX1 induction altered the transcript levels of genes involved in neuronal development, angiogenesis, and cell adhesions required for EMT. Our data have revealed a previously undefined role of CDX1 during epicardial development, and suggest that transient expression of CDX1 promotes epicardial EMT, whereas subsequent down-regulation of CDX1 after 11.5 dpc in mice is necessary for further subepicardial invasion of EPDCs and contribution to coronary vascular endothelium or smooth muscle cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)