Molecular and genetic analyses of Fgf signaling during cardiac outflow tract development

Joshua Wayne Vincentz, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Epithelial-mesenchymal tissue interactions regulate the development of derivatives of the caudal pharyngeal arches (PAs) to govern the ultimate morphogenesis of the aortic arch and outflow tract (OFT) of the heart. Disruption of these signaling pathways is thought to contribute to the pathology of a significant proportion of congenital cardiovascular defects in humans. In this study, I tested whether Fibroblast Growth Factor 15 (Fgf15), a secreted signaling molecule expressed within the PAs, is an extracellular mediator of tissue interactions during PA and OFT development. Analyses of Fgf15−/− mouse embryonic hearts revealed abnormalities primarily localized to the OFT, correlating with aberrant cardiac neural crest cell behavior. The T-box-containing transcription factor Tbx1 has been implicated in the cardiovascular defects associated with the human 22q11 Deletion Syndromes, and regulates the expression of other Fgf family members within the mouse PAs. However, expression and genetic interaction studies incorporating mice deficient for Tbx1, its upstream regulator, Sonic Hedgehog (Shh), or its putative downstream effector, Fgf8, indicated that Fgf15 functions during OFT development in a manner independent of these factors. Rather, analyses of compound mutant mice indicated that Fgf15 and Fgf9, an additional Fgf family member expressed within the PAs, genetically interact, providing insight into the factors acting in conjunction with Fgf15 during OFT development. Finally, in an effort to further characterize this Fgf15-mediated developmental pathway, promoter deletion analyses were employed to isolate a 415bp sequence 7.1Kb 5′ to the Fgf15 transcription start site both necessary and sufficient to drive reporter gene expression within the epithelium of the PAs. Sequence comparisons among multiple mammalian species facilitated the identification of evolutionarily conserved potential trans-acting factor binding sites within this fragment. Subsequent studies will investigate the molecular pathway(s) through which Fgf15 functions via identification of factors that bind to this element to govern Fgf15 gene expression. Furthermore, targeted deletion of this element will establish the developmental requirement for pharyngeal epithelium-derived Fgf15 signaling function. Taken as a whole, these data demonstrate that Fgf15 is a component of a novel, Tbx1-independent molecular pathway, functioning within the PAs in a manner cooperative with Fgf9, required for proper development of the cardiac OFT.

Subject Area

Genetics|Molecular biology|Anatomy & physiology|Animals|Pathology

Recommended Citation

Vincentz, Joshua Wayne, "Molecular and genetic analyses of Fgf signaling during cardiac outflow tract development" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3168449.