An elaborate series of morphogenetic events must be precisely coordinated during development to promote the formation of the elaborate three-dimensional structure of the normal heart. In this study we focus on discussing how interconnections between the cardiac myocyte and its surrounding environment regulate cardiac form and function. In vitro experiments from our laboratories provide direct evidence that cardiac cell shape is regulated by a dynamic interaction between constituents of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and by specific members of the integrin family of matrix receptors. Our data indicates that phenotypic information is stored in the tertiary structure and chemical identity of the ECM. This information appears to be actively communicated and transduced by the α 1β1 integrin molecule into an intracellular signal that regulates cardiac cell shape and myofibrillar organization. In this study we have assessed the phenotypic consequences of suppressing the expression and accumulation of the α1 integrin molecule in aligned cultures of cardiac myocytes. In related experiments we have examined how the overexpression of α2 and α5 integrin, integrins normally not present or present at very low copy number on the cell surface of neonatal cardiac myocytes, affect cardiac protein metabolism. We also consider how biochemical signals and the mechanical signals mediated by the integrins may converge on common intracellular signaling pathways in the heart. Experiments with the whole embryo culture system indicate that angiotensin II, a peptide that carries information concerning cardiac load, plays a role in controlling cardiac looping and the proliferation of myofibrils during development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine