Importance of endothelial Hey1 expression for thoracic great vessel development and its distal enhancer for Notch-dependent endothelial transcription

Yusuke Watanabe, Daiki Seya, Dai Ihara, Shuhei Ishii, Taiki Uemoto, Atsushi Kubo, Yuji Arai, Yoshie Isomoto, Atsushi Nakano, Takaya Abe, Mayo Shigeta, Teruhisa Kawamura, Yoshihiko Saito, Toshihiko Ogura, Osamu Nakagawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Thoracic great vessels such as the aorta and subclavian arteries are formed through dynamic remodeling of embryonic pharyngeal arch arteries (PAAs). Previous work has shown that loss of a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Hey1 in mice causes abnormal fourth PAA development and lethal great vessel anomalies resembling congenital malformations in humans. However, how Hey1 mediates vascular formation remains unclear. In this study, we revealed that Hey1 in vascular endothelial cells, but not in smooth muscle cells, played essential roles for PAA development and great vessel morphogenesis in mouse embryos. Tek-Cre–mediated Hey1 deletion in endothelial cells affected endothelial tube formation and smooth muscle differentiation in embryonic fourth PAAs and resulted in interruption of the aortic arch and other great vessel malformations. Cell specificity and signal responsiveness of Hey1 expression were controlled through multiple cis-regulatory regions. We found two distal genomic regions that had enhancer activity in endothelial cells and in the pharyngeal epithelium and somites, respectively. The novel endothelial enhancer was conserved across species and was specific to large-caliber arteries. Its transcriptional activity was regulated by Notch signaling in vitro and in vivo, but not by ALK1 signaling and other transcription factors implicated in endothelial cell specificity. The distal endothelial enhancer was not essential for basal Hey1 expression in mouse embryos but may likely serve for Notch-dependent transcriptional control in endothelial cells together with the proximal regulatory region. These findings help in understanding the significance and regulation of endothelial Hey1 as a mediator of multiple signaling pathways in embryonic vascular formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17632-17645
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number51
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 18


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