Background-Notch signaling has previously been shown to play an essential role in regulating cell fate decisions and differentiation during cardiogenesis in many systems including Drosophila, Xenopus, and mammals. We hypothesized that Notch may also be involved in directing the progressive lineage restriction of cardiomyocytes into specialized conduction cells. Methods and Results-In hearts where Notch signaling is activated within the myocardium from early development onward, Notch promotes a conduction-like phenotype based on ectopic expression of conduction system-specific genes and cell autonomous changes in electrophysiology. With the use of an in vitro assay to activate Notch in newborn cardiomyocytes, we observed global changes in the transcriptome, and in action potential characteristics, consistent with reprogramming to a conduction-like phenotype. Conclusions-Notch can instruct the differentiation of chamber cardiac progenitors into specialized conduction-like cells. Plasticity remains in late-stage cardiomyocytes, which has potential implications for engineering of specialized cardiovascular tissues.
- Action potentials