Foxc1 Regulates Early Cardiomyogenesis and Functional Properties of Embryonic Stem Cell Derived Cardiomyocytes

Erin Lambers, Baron Arnone, Anees Fatima, Gangjian Qin, J. Andrew Wasserstrom, Tsutomu Kume*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) hold great potential for regeneration of damaged myocardium, however the molecular circuitry that guides ESC differentiation into cardiomyocytes remains poorly understood. This is exemplified by the elusive role of the transcription factor, Foxc1, during cardiac development. The only known Foxc1 target during heart development is Tbx1. Because Foxc1 null mice contain heart mutations that are far more severe than Tbx1 null mice, it is likely that Foxc1 has additional regulatory roles during heart development. The goal of our study was to test whether Foxc1 is critical for ESC differentiation into functional cardiomyocytes through proper regulation of specific downstream gene networks. Converging evidence from Foxc1 deficient and overexpression ESC models reveals a close relationship between Foxc1 levels and early cardiomyogenic factors Isl1, Mef2c, and Nkx2.5 and also the production of functional cardiomyocytes. We show Foxc1 regulates early cardiomyogenesis during a specific window of differentiation, D4-D6. Through whole transcriptome RNA-sequencing analysis, we report pathways regulated by Foxc1 involved in cardiac function including actin cytoskeleton, cell adhesion, tight and gap junctions, and calcium signaling. Our data indicate a novel Foxc1 direct gene target, Myh7, which encodes the predominant myosin heavy chain isoform, MHCβ, expressed during cardiac development. These data lead us to conclude that Foxc1 regulates both early cardiomyogenesis and the functional properties of ESC-derived cardiomyocytes. Our findings shed light on the molecular circuitry governing cardiomyogenesis that may lead to the development of better translational strategies for the use of pluripotent stem cells in regenerative medicine towards repairing damaged myocardium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1487-1500
Number of pages14
JournalStem Cells
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Beta
  • Cardiomyocyte function
  • Cardiomyogenesis
  • Differentiation
  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Forkhead box C1
  • Myosin heavy chain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Foxc1 Regulates Early Cardiomyogenesis and Functional Properties of Embryonic Stem Cell Derived Cardiomyocytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this