Lack of septation of the cardiac outflow tract (OFT) results in persistent truncus arteriosus (PTA), a form of congenital heart disease. The outflow myocardium expands through addition of cells originating from the pharyngeal mesoderm referred to as secondary/anterior heart field, whereas cardiac neural crest (CNC) cell-derived mesenchyme condenses to form an aortopulmonary septum. We show for the first time that a mutation in Wnt5a in mice leads to PTA. We provide evidence that Wnt5a is expressed in the pharyngeal mesoderm adjacent to CNC cells in both mouse and chicken embryos and in the myocardial cell layer of the conotruncus at the time when CNC cells begin to form the aortopulmonary septum in mice. Although expression domains of secondary heart field markers are not altered in Wnt5a mutant embryos, the expression of CNC cell marker PlexinA2 is significantly reduced. Stimulation of CNC cells with Wnt5a protein elicits Ca2+ transients, suggesting that CNC cells are capable of responding to Wnt5a. We propose a novel model in which Wnt5a produced in the OFT by cells originating from the pharyngeal mesoderm signals to adjacent CNC cells during formation of the aortopulmonary septum through a noncanonical pathway via localized intracellular increases in Ca2+.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health