The multi-lineage transcription factor ISL1 controls cardiomyocyte cell fate through interaction with NKX2.5

Bonnie E.J. Maven, Casey A. Gifford, Melanie Weilert, Barbara Gonzalez-Teran, Ruth Hüttenhain, Angelo Pelonero, Kathryn N. Ivey, Kaitlen Samse-Knapp, Wesley Kwong, David Gordon, Michael McGregor, Tomohiro Nishino, Eyuche Okorie, Sage Rossman, Mauro W. Costa, Nevan J. Krogan, Julia Zeitlinger, Deepak Srivastava

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Congenital heart disease often arises from perturbations of transcription factors (TFs) that guide cardiac development. ISLET1 (ISL1) is a TF that influences early cardiac cell fate, as well as differentiation of other cell types including motor neuron progenitors (MNPs) and pancreatic islet cells. While lineage specificity of ISL1 function is likely achieved through combinatorial interactions, its essential cardiac interacting partners are unknown. By assaying ISL1 genomic occupancy in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitors (CPs) or MNPs and leveraging the deep learning approach BPNet, we identified motifs of other TFs that predicted ISL1 occupancy in each lineage, with NKX2.5 and GATA motifs being most closely associated to ISL1 in CPs. Experimentally, nearly two-thirds of ISL1-bound loci were co-occupied by NKX2.5 and/or GATA4. Removal of NKX2.5 from CPs led to widespread ISL1 redistribution, and overexpression of NKX2.5 in MNPs led to ISL1 occupancy of CP-specific loci. These results reveal how ISL1 guides lineage choices through a combinatorial code that dictates genomic occupancy and transcription.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2138-2153
Number of pages16
JournalStem Cell Reports
Issue number11
StatePublished - 14 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiac development
  • cardiac progenitor
  • cell specification
  • combinatorial code
  • ISL1
  • NKX2.5
  • transcription factor motifs
  • transcription factors
  • transcriptional regulation


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