Although several cardiac-specific transcription factors have been shown to play vital roles in various steps during the heart formation, the precise mechanism of the early stage of cardiogenesis has yet to be elucidated. By differential display technique, we tried to identify molecules that are expressed earlier than cardiac transcription factors such as CSX/NKX2-5 and GATA-4 and are involved in cardiomyocyte differentiation using the P19CL6 cell line, which efficiently differentiates into cardiomyocytes when treated with dimethyl sulfoxide. We isolated a novel gene designated Midori. Its deduced amino acid sequence contained an ATP/GTP-binding site, Ig-like domain, and Kringle-like domain. Northern blot analysis revealed that expression of Midori was restricted to the fetal and adult heart and adult skeletal muscle in mice. In whole mount in situ hybridization, Midori was expressed in cardiac crescent and developing heart but not in somites. The MIDORI protein was localized in the nucleus and overexpression of Midori induced expression of endogenous Midori itself, suggesting that MIDORI may act as a transcriptional regulator. Permanent P19CL6 cell lines overexpressing Midori more efficiently differentiated into cardiomyocytes than did parental cells, whereas those overexpressing the antisense Midori less efficiently differentiated. These results suggest that Midori may promote the differentiation of P19CL6 into cardiomyocytes.
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