Transcriptional regulation of cardiac conduction system development: 2004 FASEB cardiac conduction system minimeeting, Washington, DC

Brett S. Harris, Patrick Y. Jay, Mary S. Rackley, Seigo Izumo, Terrence X. O'Brien, Robert G. Gourdie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The development of the complex network of specialized cells that form the atrioventricular conduction system (AVCS) during cardiac morphogenesis occurs by progressive recruitment within a multipotent cardiomyogenic lineage. Understanding the molecular control of this developmental process has been the focus of recent research. Transcription factors representative of multiple subfamilies have been identified and include members of zinc-finger subfamilies (GATA4, GATA6 HF-1b), skeletal muscle transcription factors (MyoD), T-box genes (Tbx5), and also homeodomain transcription factors (Msx2 and Nkx2.5). Mutations in some of these transcription factors cause congenital heart disease and are associated with cardiac abnormalities, including deficits within the AVCS. Mouse models that closely phenocopy known human heart disease provide powerful tools for the study of molecular effectors of AVCS development. Indeed, investigations of the Nkx2.5 haploinsufficient mouse have shown that peripheral Purkinje fibers are significantly underrepresented. This piece of data corroborates our previous work showing in chick, mouse, and humans that Nkx2.5 is elevated in the differentiating AVCS relative to adjacent working ventricular myocardial tissues. Using the chick embryo as a model, we show that this elevation of Nkx2.5 is transient in the network of conduction cells comprising the peripheral Purkinje fiber system. Functional studies using defective adenoviral constructs, which disrupt the normal variation in level of this gene, result in perturbations of Purkinje fiber phenotype. Thus, the precise spatiotemporal regulation of Nkx2.5 levels during development may be required for the progressive emergence of gene expression patterns specific to differentiated Purkinje fiber cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1036-1045
Number of pages10
JournalAnatomical Record - Part A Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Atrioventricular block
  • Development
  • Heart conduction system
  • Nkx2-5
  • Purkinje fibers


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