HDAC activity regulates entry of mesoderm cells into the cardiac muscle lineage

Christina Karamboulas, Albert Swedani, Chris Ward, Ashraf Al Madhoun, Sharon Wilton, Sophie Boisvenue, Alan G. Ridgeway, Ilona S. Skerjanc

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85 Citations (Scopus)


Class II histone deacetylases (HDAC4, HDAC5, HDAC7 and HDAC9) have been shown to interact with myocyte enhancer factors 2 (MEF2s) and play an important role in the repression of cardiac hypertrophy. We examined the role of HDACs during the differentiation of P19 embryonic carcinoma stem cells into cardiomyoctyes. Treatment of aggregated P19 cells with the HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A induced the entry of mesodermal cells into the cardiac muscle lineage, shown by the upregulation of transcripts Nkx2-5, MEF2C, GATA4 and cardiac α-actin. Furthermore, the overexpression of HDAC4 inhibited cardiomyogenesis, shown by the downregulation of cardiac muscle gene expression. Class II HDAC activity is inhibited through phosphorylation by Ca2+/ calmodulin-dependent kinase (CaMK). Expression of an activated CaMKIV in P19 cells upregulated the expression of Nkx2-5, GATA4 and MEF2C, enhanced cardiac muscle development, and activated a MEF2-responsive promoter. Moreover, inhibition of CaMK signaling downregulated GATA4 expression. Finally, P19 cells constitutively expressing a dominant-negative form of MEF2C, capable of binding class II HDACs, underwent cardiomyogenesis more efficiently than control cells, implying the relief of an inhibitor. Our results suggest that HDAC activity regulates the specification of mesoderm cells into cardiomyoblasts by inhibiting the expression of GATA4 and Nkx2-5 in a stem cell model system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4305-4314
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2006


  • Cardiomyogenesis
  • Gene expression
  • Stem cells


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