Mouse embryonic stem cells express the cardiac myosin heavy chain genes during development in vitro

J. Robbins, J. Gulick, A. Sanchez, P. Howles, T. Doetschman

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171 Scopus citations


In the mouse embryo, early organogenesis is characterized by the formation of a functional cardiac muscle, such that 9-day embryos exhibit beating, although not fully developed hearts. In light of this observation, we found it intriguing that mouse embryoid bodies (EB), which can develop in vitro from totipotential embryonic stem cells, undergo spontaneous contractile activity. To determine if these cells are capable of recapitulating aspects of cardiogenesis, a cDNA library was prepared from beating EB and screened with a chicken skeletal myosin heavy chain cDNA. We found that the predominant myosin transcripts in the library encode the α- and β-cardiac isoforms. In addition, an embryonic skeletal myosin cDNA was isolated. The myosin heavy chain transcripts in both EB and 9-day embryonic hearts were found to be the same. Transcript-specific primers were prepared, and polymerase chain reaction analyses on single EB were carried out. The data show that a single EB is capable of expressing both the α- and β- isoforms as well as very low amounts of the embryonic skeletal transcript. These data indicate that EB transcribe the appropriate tissue- and developmental stage-specific myosin heavy chain genes and therefore serve as a model system for studying early cardiogenic processes at the molecular level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11905-11909
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number20
StatePublished - Jul 15 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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