Epicardial retinoid X receptor α is required for myocardial growth and coronary artery formation

Esther Merki, Monica Zamora, Angel Raya, Yasuhiko Kawakami, Jianming Wang, Xiaoxue Zhang, John Burch, Steven W. Kubalak, Perla Kaliman, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Kenneth R. Chien, Pilar Ruiz-Lozano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

297 Scopus citations


Vitamin A signals play critical roles during embryonic development. In particular, heart morphogenesis depends on vitamin A signals mediated by the retinoid X receptor α (RXRα), as the systemic mutation of this receptor results in thinning of the myocardium and embryonic lethality. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlled by RXRα signaling in this process are unclear, because a myocardium-restricted RXRα mutation does not perturb heart morphogenesis. Here, we analyze a series of tissue-restricted mutations of the RXRα gene in the cardiac neural crest, endothelial, and epicardial lineages, and we show that RXRα signaling in the epicardium is required for proper cardiac morphogenesis. Moreover, we detect an additional phenotype of defective coronary arteriogenesis associated with RXRα deficiency and identify a retinoid-dependent Wnt signaling pathway that cooperates in epicardial epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18455-18460
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 20 2005


  • Coronary vessels
  • Epicardium
  • FGF
  • Retinoids
  • wnt


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