Abstract 3407: The Transcriptional Mediator Complex Is Essential For Cardiac Valve Formation
The genetic causes of congenital heart diseases especially cardiac valve disorders are mostly unknown. During the last decade, the zebrafish became an excellent and established model organism (1) to uncover these genetic defects and (2) to elucidate the underlying molecular pathomechanisms. We recently isolated the zebrafish mutation ping pong (pngm683) in a large-scale ENU-mutagenesis screen for recessive lethal mutations that perturb cardiac function. png mutant zebrafish embryos show pathologically developed cardiac valves. Due to malformation of the cardiac AV valves, png mutant zebrafish embryos exhibit vigorous regurgitation of blood between the atrium and the ventricle. Furthermore, as a result of the cardiac valve malformation and cardiac dysfunction png mutants die at day 6 post fertilization. Expression of several factors known to be crucial for the proper development and formation of the atrio-ventricluar canal (e.g. notch1b, bmp4 or versican) is significantly altered in png mutant zebrafish hearts. By a positional cloning approach we demonstrate that the ping pong phenotype is caused by a promotor mutation in a zebrafish gene encoding for a novel component of the “transcriptional mediator complex”. This mediator complex is a multi-protein complex that acts as a transcriptional coactivator and transduces informations from transcription factors to the RNA polymerase II. png is strongly expressed in zebrafish as well as human cardiomyocytes. Furthermore, sequence alignments demonstrate the evolutionary conservation of the ping pong gene product. Gene specific knock-down studies by means of modified antisense oligonucleotides reveal a phenocopy of the png mutant phenotype whereas injection of the gene-specific mRNA in png mutant embryos restores the mutant phenotype indicating that png is indeed responsible for the observed phenotype. The zebrafish evolved as an excellent model organism to study the molecular signalling pathways involved in cardiac valve formation. By detailed characterization of the zebrafish line ping pong we will obtain new insights into these molecular mechanisms especially the transcriptional control of valve formation and therefore the pathomechanisms of human cardiac valve disorders.