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Epicardial progenitors contribute to the cardiomyocyte lineage in the developing heart.

The heart is formed from cardiogenic progenitors expressing the transcription factors Nkx2-5 and Isl1 (refs 1 and 2). These multipotent progenitors give rise to cardiomyocyte, smooth muscle and endothelial cells, the major lineages of the mature heart. Here we identify a novel cardiogenic precursor marked by expression of the transcription factor Wt1 and located within the epicardium-an epithelial sheet overlying the heart. During normal murine heart development, a subset of these Wt1(+) precursors differentiated into fully functional cardiomyocytes. Wt1(+) proepicardial cells arose from progenitors that express Nkx2-5 and Isl1, suggesting that they share a developmental origin with multipotent Nkx2-5(+) and Isl1(+) progenitors. These results identify Wt1(+) epicardial cells as previously unrecognized cardiomyocyte progenitors, and lay the foundation for future efforts to harness the cardiogenic potential of these progenitors for cardiac regeneration and repair.

Pubmed ID: 18568026


  • Zhou B
  • Ma Q
  • Rajagopal S
  • Wu SM
  • Domian I
  • Rivera-Feliciano J
  • Jiang D
  • von Gise A
  • Ikeda S
  • Chien KR
  • Pu WT



Publication Data

July 3, 2008

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: P50 HL074734
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: P50 HL074734-05

Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Heart
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Mice
  • Myocytes, Cardiac
  • Pericardium
  • Stem Cells
  • Transcription Factors
  • WT1 Proteins