Protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) is a second messenger involved in cell cycle regulation, cell transformation, and cell fate determination. We previously identified a gene encoding the α catalytic subunit of PP2A in the embryonic rat heart, but its role in cardiac morphogenesis was unknown. In this study, we examined the developmental expression of PP2A(α) mRNA and protein in the heart using Northern and Western analysis, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemical staining. We found two major PP2A(α) transcripts in the rat heart (1.8 and 2.4 kb), at all stages examined. By Western blotting, PP2A(α) protein levels where twice as high in the embryonic rat heart compared with the adult. In situ hybridization on embryonic d 12 showed that P2A(α) mRNA was expressed in the heart, brain, tail, and limb buds. Cardiac PP2A(α) expression was regionally restricted to the atrium, ventricle, and truncus arteriosus. PP2A(α) expression did not extend into the more distal aortic sac or aortic arches. Cross-sectional hybridization revealed PP2A(α) mRNA in the epicardium, pericardium, and endothelium. Later in development, mRNA expression was also detected at high levels in mesenchymal cells populating the endocardial cushions and in myocardium. At term, PP2A(α) was highly expressed in endothelial cells, but not in the underlying myocardium. PP2A(α) protein had a similar distribution at all embryonic stages examined. These results show that there is transcriptional, translational, and cell-specific regulation of PP2A(α) during heart development. We speculate on the role of PP2A(α)-mediated dephosphorylation in cardiac morphogenesis and suggest a number of possible molecular targets.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health