Members of the myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2) family of MADS (MCM1, agamous, deficiens, serum response factor)-box transcription factors bind an A-T-rich DNA sequence associated with muscle-specific genes. The murine MEF2C gene is expressed in heart precursor cells before formation of the linear heart tube. In mice homozygous for a null mutation of MEF2C, the heart tube did not undergo looping morphogenesis, the future right ventricle did not form, and a subset of cardiac muscle genes was not expressed. The absence of the right ventricular region of the mutant heart correlated with down-regulation of the dHAND gene, which encodes a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor required for cardiac morphogenesis. Thus, MEF2C is an essential regulator of cardiac myogenesis and right ventricular development.
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