Spatiotemporal Analysis Reveals Overlap of Key Proepicardial Markers in the Developing Murine Heart.
Lupu I-E., Redpath AN., Smart N.
The embryonic epicardium, originating from the proepicardial organ (PEO), provides a source of multipotent progenitors for cardiac lineages, including pericytes, fibroblasts, and vascular smooth muscle cells. Maximizing the regenerative capacity of the adult epicardium depends on recapitulating embryonic cell fates. The potential of the epicardium to contribute coronary endothelium is unclear, due to conflicting Cre-based lineage trace data. Controversy also surrounds when epicardial cell fate becomes restricted. Here, we systematically investigate expression of five widely used epicardial markers, Wt1, Tcf21, Tbx18, Sema3d, and Scx, over the course of development. We show overlap of markers in all PEO and epicardial cells until E13.5, and find no evidence for discrete proepicardial sub-compartments that might contribute coronary endothelium via the epicardial layer. Our findings clarify a number of prevailing discrepancies and support the notion that epicardium-derived cell fate, to form fibroblasts or mural cells, is specified after epithelial-mesenchymal transition, not pre-determined within the PEO.