Scientists have identified a set of molecular signals that activate the protective and potentially restorative layer of tissue surrounding the mammalian heart. This finding may ultimately lead to new strategies for repairing heart damage. The tissue, called the epicardium, supplies essential growth factors and stem cells during development. It becomes dormant in adulthood but reactivates when the heart is injured. This response switches back on the genes that helped the heart grow during development, but the mechanism underlying this process has been unknown. Studying mouse models, Guo Huang and colleagues found that so-called C/EBP transcription factors are responsible for activating the epicardium during development and injury. Blocking C/EBP signaling in the epicardium of injured hearts reduced inflammation and improved heart function.
Article #21: "EBP Transcription Factors Mediate Epicardial Activation during Heart Development and Injury," by G.N. Huang; J.E. Thatcher; J. McAnally; Y.i Kong; X. Qi; W.Tan; J. Michael DiMaio; J.F. Amatruda; R.D. Gerard; J.A. Hill; R. Bassel-Duby; Eric N. Olson; at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX.