The vertebrate heart is assembled during embryogenesis in a modular manner from different populations of precursor cells. The right ventricular chamber and outflow tract are derived primarily from a population of progenitors known as the anterior heart field. These regions of the heart are severely hypoplastic in mutant mice lacking the myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C) and BOP transcription factors, suggesting that these cardiogenic regulatory factors may act in a common pathway for development of the anterior heart field and its derivatives. We show that Bop expression in the developing heart depends on the direct binding of MEF2C to a MEF2-response element in the Bop promoter that is necessary and sufficient to recapitulate endogenous Bop expression in the anterior heart field and its cardiac derivatives during mouse development. The Bop promoter also directs transcription in the skeletal muscle lineage, but only cardiac expression is dependent on MEF2. These findings identify Bop as an essential downstream effector gene of MEF2C in the developing heart, and reveal a transcriptional cascade involved in development of the anterior heart field and its derivatives.
- Anterior heart field
- Cardiac gene expression
- MEF2 binding site
- Skeletal muscle gene expression