Heart septation and valve malformations constitute the most common anatomical birth defects. These structures arise from the endocardial cushions within the atrioventricular canal (AVC) through dynamic interactions between cushion cells and the extracellular matrix (termed cardiac jelly). Transformation of endothelial cells to mesenchymal cells is essential for the proper development of the AVC and subsequent septation and valve formation. Atrioventricular septal defects can result from incomplete endocardial cushion morphogenesis. We show that hyaluronan-deficient AVC explants from Has2−/− embryos, which normally lack mesenchyme formation, are rescued by heregulin treatment, which restores phosphorylation of ErbB2 and ErbB3. These events were blocked using a soluble ErbB3 molecule, as well as with an inhibitor of ErbB2, herstatin. We show further that ErbB3 is activated during hyaluronan treatment of Has2−/− explants. These data provide a link between extracellular matrix-hyaluronan and ErbB receptor activation during development of early heart-valve and septal mesenchyme.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)