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The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor gene Hand1 has been implicated in development of the heart. However, the early lethality of Hand1-null mutant mouse embryos has precluded a precise understanding of its function. In this study, we have generated Hand1 homozygous mutant ES cells and performed in vitro differentiation experiments and chimeric analysis to study the role of Hand1 function during cardiac development. Hand1-null ES cells were able to differentiate into beating cardiomyocytes in vitro that expressed cardiac myosin and several cardiac-specific transcripts including Nkx2-5, alpha-cardiac actin, and the myofilament genes myosin light chain 2a and 2v. In chimeras derived from Hand1-null ES cells and ROSA26 embryos, mutant cells were underrepresented in the left caudal region of the linear heart tube at E8.0. By E9.5, after cardiac looping, mutant cells were underrepresented in the anterior region of the outer curvature of the left ventricular myocardium, but did contribute to other parts of the left ventricle and to other cardiac chambers. These results imply that Hand1 is not essential for differentiation of ventricular cardiomyocytes. Hand1-null cells were also underrepresented in several other regions of later embryos, including the rhombencephalic neural tube that was associated with a deficiency of mutant cells in the neural crest cell-derived cardiac outflow tract and first branchial arch. In summary, Hand1 has cell-autonomous functions during cardiac morphogenesis in both mesodermal and neural crest derivatives.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Biol

Publication Date





156 - 168


Animals, Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors, Cell Differentiation, Cell Movement, Chimera, DNA-Binding Proteins, Gene Deletion, Genes, Reporter, Heart Ventricles, Immunohistochemistry, In Situ Hybridization, Mesoderm, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Morphogenesis, Myocardium, Neural Crest, RNA, Messenger, Stem Cells, Transcription Factors