In a new study published in Nature Cell Biology, researchers led by Pr. Cédric Blanpain, Laboratory of Stem Cells and Cancer, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and Dr. Fabienne Lescroart, Aix-Marseille Universtity, INSERM, France, defined the mechanisms by which Mesp1 binds to the DNA and induce the remodelling of key genomic regions responsible of the regulation of gene expression that occurs during the early steps of cardiovascular progenitor specification and differentiation, allowing to reconstruct the gene regulatory network that govern cardiac development. In this study we uncovered that Mesp1 binds distinct regions of the DNA at different times during cardiac progenitor specification leading to a precise and very specific regulation of gene expression required for the specification of the different building blocks of the heart in a temporal and spatial regulated manner. We discovered that Zic2 and Zic3, two other transcription factors, can act as partners of Mesp1 during cardiovascular development
Our results might help better understand congenital heart diseases as both MESP1 and ZIC3 have been associated with some forms of congenital heart diseases, as these key genes are involved at this early developmental time window essential for harmonious heart development and any defect at this critical period of embryonic development can lead to heart defects.