Objective: To study postnatal cardiac differentiation in the mouse.
Hypothesis: There might be mechanisms or factors in cardiac differentiation that could be identified by systematic gene expression analysis during postnatal cardiac development.
Methods: Expression of 6144 genes was examined in mouse heart, from the newborn period (day 0), through day 7 and day 14 day, to adulthood, using the cDNA microarray approach. Northern blotting and immunohistochemical techniques were used to confirm the microarray results.
Results: Various cardiac development related genes involving the cell cycle (cyclin B1, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), and Ki67), growth factors (IGF-II, pleiotrophin (PTN), and midkine (MK)), and transcriptional regulation, cytoskeleton, and detoxification enzymes were identified by microarray analysis. Some of these genes were also confirmed by Northern blotting and immunohistochemistry of their RNA and protein content. In vivo treatment with PTN (20 ng/g) increased bromodeoxyuridine incorporation (by 2.24-fold) and PCNA expression (by 1.71-fold) during day 7 to day 14, indicating that PTN induces cell proliferation in mouse heart.
Conclusions: Global gene expression analysis in the whole heart may be useful in understanding the orchestrated process of postnatal development or terminal differentiation in the cardiac environment. These data are likely to be helpful in studying developmental anomalies of the heart in neonates.
Keywords: developmental biology, gene expression, growth factors, microarray, pleiotrophin