NADPH oxidases (NOX) are a major source of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in the heart. ROS signaling regulates gene expression, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and migration. However, the role of NOX2 in embryonic heart development remains elusive. We hypothesized that deficiency of Nox2 disrupts endocardial to mesenchymal transition (EndMT) and results in congenital septal and valvular defects. Our data show that 34% of Nox2-/- neonatal mice had various congenital heart defects (CHDs) including atrial septal defects (ASD), ventricular septal defects (VSD), atrioventricular canal defects (AVCD), and malformation of atrioventricular and aortic valves. Notably, Nox2-/- embryonic hearts show abnormal development of the endocardial cushion as evidenced by decreased cell proliferation and an increased rate of apoptosis. Additionally, Nox2 deficiency disrupted EndMT of atrioventricular cushion explants ex vivo. Furthermore, treatment with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) to reduce ROS levels in the wild-type endocardial cushion explants decreased the number of cells undergoing EndMT. Importantly, deficiency of Nox2 was associated with reduced expression of Gata4, Tgfβ2, Bmp2, Bmp4, and Snail1, which are critical to endocardial cushion and valvoseptal development. We conclude that NOX2 is critical to EndMT, endocardial cushion cell proliferation, and normal embryonic heart development.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/qingping-feng/26/