FOXK1 regulates Wnt signalling to promote cardiogenesis

Javier E. Sierra-Pagan, Nikita Dsouza, Satyabrata Das, Thijs A. Larson, Jacob R. Sorensen, Xiao Ma, Patricia Stan, Erik J. Wanberg, Xiaozhong Shi, Mary G. Garry, Wuming Gong, Daniel J. Garry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Aims: Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common genetic birth defect, which has considerable morbidity and mortality. We focused on deciphering key regulators that govern cardiac progenitors and cardiogenesis. FOXK1 is a forkhead/winged helix transcription factor known to regulate cell cycle kinetics and is restricted to mesodermal progenitors, somites, and heart. In the present study, we define an essential role for FOXK1 during cardiovascular development. Methods and results: We used the mouse embryoid body system to differentiate control and Foxk1 KO embryonic stem cells into mesodermal, cardiac progenitor cells and mature cardiac cells. Using flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, cardiac beating, transcriptional and chromatin immunoprecipitation quantitative polymerase chain reaction assays, bulk RNA sequencing (RNAseq) and assay for transposase-accessible chromatin using sequencing (ATACseq) analyses, FOXK1 was observed to be an important regulator of cardiogenesis. Flow cytometry analyses revealed perturbed cardiogenesis in Foxk1 KO embryoid bodies (EBs). Bulk RNAseq analysis at two developmental stages showed a significant reduction of the cardiac molecular program in Foxk1 KO EBs compared to the control EBs. ATACseq analysis during EB differentiation demonstrated that the chromatin landscape nearby known important regulators of cardiogenesis was significantly relaxed in control EBs compared to Foxk1 KO EBs. Furthermore, we demonstrated that in the absence of FOXK1, cardiac differentiation was markedly impaired by assaying for cardiac Troponin T expression and cardiac contractility. We demonstrate that FOXK1 is an important regulator of cardiogenesis by repressing the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway and thereby promoting differentiation. Conclusion: These results identify FOXK1 as an essential transcriptional and epigenetic regulator of cardiovascular development. Mechanistically, FOXK1 represses Wnt signalling to promote the development of cardiac progenitor cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1728-1739
Number of pages12
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved.


  • Cardiovascular development
  • Forkhead factors
  • Foxk1
  • Wnt signalling

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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