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Global transcriptome analysis of murine embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes

Michael Xavier Doss1, Johannes Winkler1, Shuhua Chen1, Rita Hippler-Altenburg1, Isaia Sotiriadou1, Marcel Halbach1, Kurt Pfannkuche1, Huamin Liang1, Herbert Schulz2, Oliver Hummel2, Norbert Hübner2, Ruth Rottscheidt3, Jürgen Hescheler1 and Agapios Sachinidis1*

Author Affiliations

1 Center of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Institute of Neurophysiology, University of Cologne, Robert Koch Str., 50931 Cologne, Germany

2 Max-Delbrueck-Center for Molecular Medicine - MDC, Robert-Rössle Str., 13092 Berlin, Germany

3 Institute for Genetics, Department of Evolutionary Genetics, University of Cologne, Zülpicher Str., 50674 Cologne, Germany

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Genome Biology 2007, 8:R56  doi:10.1186/gb-2007-8-4-r56

Published: 11 April 2007



Characterization of gene expression signatures for cardiomyocytes derived from embryonic stem cells will help to define their early biologic processes.


A transgenic α-myosin heavy chain (MHC) embryonic stem cell lineage was generated, exhibiting puromycin resistance and expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under the control of the α-MHC promoter. A puromycin-resistant, EGFP-positive, α-MHC-positive cardiomyocyte population was isolated with over 92% purity. RNA was isolated after electrophysiological characterization of the cardiomyocytes. Comprehensive transcriptome analysis of α-MHC-positive cardiomyocytes in comparison with undifferentiated α-MHC embryonic stem cells and the control population from 15-day-old embryoid bodies led to identification of 884 upregulated probe sets and 951 downregulated probe sets in α-MHC-positive cardiomyocytes. A subset of upregulated genes encodes cytoskeletal and voltage-dependent channel proteins, and proteins that participate in aerobic energy metabolism. Interestingly, mitosis, apoptosis, and Wnt signaling-associated genes were downregulated in the cardiomyocytes. In contrast, annotations for genes upregulated in the α-MHC-positive cardiomyocytes are enriched for the following Gene Ontology (GO) categories: enzyme-linked receptor protein signaling pathway (GO:0007167), protein kinase activity (GO:0004672), negative regulation of Wnt receptor signaling pathway (GO:0030178), and regulation of cell size (O:0008361). They were also enriched for the Biocarta p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) calcium signaling pathway.


The specific pattern of gene expression in the cardiomyocytes derived from embryonic stem cells reflects the biologic, physiologic, and functional processes that take place in mature cardiomyocytes. Identification of cardiomyocyte-specific gene expression patterns and signaling pathways will contribute toward elucidating their roles in intact cardiac function.