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1.  Genome-wide profiling of the cardiac transcriptome after myocardial infarction identifies novel heart-specific long non-coding RNAs 
European Heart Journal  2014;36(6):353-368.
Heart disease is recognized as a consequence of dysregulation of cardiac gene regulatory networks. Previously, unappreciated components of such networks are the long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Their roles in the heart remain to be elucidated. Thus, this study aimed to systematically characterize the cardiac long non-coding transcriptome post-myocardial infarction and to elucidate their potential roles in cardiac homoeostasis.
Methods and results
We annotated the mouse transcriptome after myocardial infarction via RNA sequencing and ab initio transcript reconstruction, and integrated genome-wide approaches to associate specific lncRNAs with developmental processes and physiological parameters. Expression of specific lncRNAs strongly correlated with defined parameters of cardiac dimensions and function. Using chromatin maps to infer lncRNA function, we identified many with potential roles in cardiogenesis and pathological remodelling. The vast majority was associated with active cardiac-specific enhancers. Importantly, oligonucleotide-mediated knockdown implicated novel lncRNAs in controlling expression of key regulatory proteins involved in cardiogenesis. Finally, we identified hundreds of human orthologues and demonstrate that particular candidates were differentially modulated in human heart disease.
These findings reveal hundreds of novel heart-specific lncRNAs with unique regulatory and functional characteristics relevant to maladaptive remodelling, cardiac function and possibly cardiac regeneration. This new class of molecules represents potential therapeutic targets for cardiac disease. Furthermore, their exquisite correlation with cardiac physiology renders them attractive candidate biomarkers to be used in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC4320320  PMID: 24786300
Myocardial infarction; Heart failure; Transcriptome; Long non-coding RNAs; Next-generation sequencing
2.  The Notch pathway controls fibrotic and regenerative repair in the adult heart 
European Heart Journal  2012;35(32):2174-2185.
In the adult heart, Notch signalling regulates the response to injury. Notch inhibition leads to increased cardiomyocyte apoptosis, and exacerbates the development of cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis. The role of Notch in the mesenchymal stromal cell fraction, which contains cardiac fibroblasts and cardiac precursor cells, is, however, largely unknown. In the present study, we evaluate, therefore, whether forced activation of the Notch pathway in mesenchymal stromal cells regulates pathological cardiac remodelling.
Methods and results
We generated transgenic mice overexpressing the Notch ligand Jagged1 on the surface of cardiomyocytes to activate Notch signalling in adjacent myocyte and non-myocyte cells. In neonatal transgenic mice, activated Notch sustained cardiac precursor and myocyte proliferation after birth, and led to increased numbers of cardiac myocytes in adult mice. In the adult heart under pressure overload, Notch inhibited the development of cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and transforming growth factor-β/connective tissue growth factor-mediated cardiac fibrosis. Most importantly, Notch activation in the stressed adult heart reduced the proliferation of myofibroblasts and stimulated the expansion of stem cell antigen-1-positive cells, and in particular of Nkx2.5-positive cardiac precursor cells.
We conclude that Notch is pivotal in the healing process of the injured heart. Specifically, Notch regulates key cellular mechanisms in the mesenchymal stromal cell population, and thereby controls the balance between fibrotic and regenerative repair in the adult heart. Altogether, these findings indicate that Notch represents a unique therapeutic target for inducing regeneration in the adult heart via mobilization of cardiac precursor cells.
PMCID: PMC4139705  PMID: 23166366
Hypertrophy; Regeneration; Cardiac precursor cells; Notch signalling
3.  EH-myomesin splice isoform is a novel marker for dilated cardiomyopathy 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2010;106(2):233-247.
The M-band is the prominent cytoskeletal structure that cross-links the myosin and titin filaments in the middle of the sarcomere. To investigate M-band alterations in heart disease, we analyzed the expression of its main components, proteins of the myomesin family, in mouse and human cardiomyopathy. Cardiac function was assessed by echocardiography and compared to the expression pattern of myomesins evaluated with RT-PCR, Western blot, and immunofluorescent analysis. Disease progression in transgenic mouse models for dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) was accompanied by specific M-band alterations. The dominant splice isoform in the embryonic heart, EH-myomesin, was strongly up-regulated in the failing heart and correlated with a decrease in cardiac function (R = −0.86). In addition, we have analyzed the expressions of myomesins in human myocardial biopsies (N = 40) obtained from DCM patients, DCM patients supported by a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) patients and controls. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that the EH-myomesin isoform was up-regulated 41-fold (P < 0.001) in the DCM patients compared to control patients. In DCM hearts supported by a LVAD and HCM hearts, the EH-myomesin expression was comparable to controls. Immunofluorescent analyses indicate that EH-myomesin was enhanced in a cell-specific manner, leading to a higher heterogeneity of the myocytes’ cytoskeleton through the myocardial wall. We suggest that the up-regulation of EH-myomesin denotes an adaptive remodeling of the sarcomere cytoskeleton in the dilated heart and might serve as a marker for DCM in mouse and human myocardium.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-010-0131-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3032906  PMID: 21069531
Dilated cardiomyopathy; Heart failure; Sarcomere cytoskeleton; M-band; Myomesin
4.  Control of the adaptive response of the heart to stress via the Notch1 receptor pathway 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2008;205(13):3173-3185.
In the damaged heart, cardiac adaptation relies primarily on cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. The recent discovery of cardiac stem cells in the postnatal heart, however, suggests that these cells could participate in the response to stress via their capacity to regenerate cardiac tissues. Using models of cardiac hypertrophy and failure, we demonstrate that components of the Notch pathway are up-regulated in the hypertrophic heart. The Notch pathway is an evolutionarily conserved cell-to-cell communication system, which is crucial in many developmental processes. Notch also plays key roles in the regenerative capacity of self-renewing organs. In the heart, Notch1 signaling takes place in cardiomyocytes and in mesenchymal cardiac precursors and is activated secondary to stimulated Jagged1 expression on the surface of cardiomyocytes. Using mice lacking Notch1 expression specifically in the heart, we show that the Notch1 pathway controls pathophysiological cardiac remodeling. In the absence of Notch1, cardiac hypertrophy is exacerbated, fibrosis develops, function is altered, and the mortality rate increases. Therefore, in cardiomyocytes, Notch controls maturation, limits the extent of the hypertrophic response, and may thereby contribute to cell survival. In cardiac precursors, Notch prevents cardiogenic differentiation, favors proliferation, and may facilitate the expansion of a transient amplifying cell compartment.
PMCID: PMC2605223  PMID: 19064701

Results 1-4 (4)