Troponin I isoform expression is developmentally regulated in differentiating embryonic stem cell-derived cardiac myocytes

Margaret V. Westfall, Linda C. Samuelson, Joseph M. Metzger

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37 Scopus citations


We studied troponin I (TnI) isoform expression in the mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell model of cardiogenesis as an essential first step to understanding the relationship between TnI isoform transitions and myofibrillar function. Cultures of differentiating ES cells were grown on coverslips to permit microscopic inspection of foci of spontaneously contracting cardiac myocytes developing in culture. TnI expression was followed over time to test whether the cardiac myocytes undergo the developmental pattern of expression characteristic of vertebrate cardiogenesis, in which slow skeletal TnI (ssTnI) is expressed initially, followed by induction of cardiac (cTnI) isoform expression. Cardiac TnI expression was examined using the cardiac- specific, monoclonal TI-1 antibody (Ab) while all striated muscle TnI isoforms were detected using the monoclonal TI-4 Ab. Cardiac-specific TnI expression was detected in only 8% (8/96) of foci contracting less than 5 days while TI-4 positive staining was present in 95% (71/73) of foci. These results indicate that other striated muscle TnI isoforms were being expressed in most of the TI-4 positive staining foci. The proportion of contracting foci expressing the cardiac isoform increased steadily over time, such that 100% of foci contracting more than 20 days (13/13) stained positive with the TI-1 Ab. Dual labeling experiments with both TI-1 and TI-4 anti-TnI Abs in the same culture confirmed that within each foci, the area expressing cTnI increased with the days of spontaneous contraction. Western blot analysis of micro-dissected ES cell-derived cardiac myocytes confirmed that TI-4 immunostaining at early developmental time points represented ssTnI, and not the fast skeletal TnI isoform. We conclude that ES cell-derived cardiac myocytes display the developmental induction of cardiac TnI expression characteristic of vertebrate cardiac development. Thus, this model should be useful for studying the regulation and functional significance of TnI isoform expression during in vitro cardiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-38
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1996


  • Cardiogenesis
  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Isoforms
  • Troponin I


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