Pharyngeal arch artery defects and lethal malformations of the aortic arch and its branches in mice deficient for the Hrt1/Hey1 transcription factor

Masahide Fujita, Masahide Sakabe, Tomoko Ioka, Yusuke Watanabe, Yumi Kinugasa-Katayama, Takatoshi Tsuchihashi, Manuel F. Utset, Hiroyuki Yamagishi, Osamu Nakagawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The aortic arch and major branch arteries are formed from the three pairs of pharyngeal arch arteries (PAAs) during embryonic development. Their morphological defects are clinically observed as isolated diseases, as a part of complicated cardiovascular anomalies or as a manifestation of multi-organ syndromes such as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Although numerous genes have been implicated in PAA formation and remodeling, detailed mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we report that the mice null for Hrt1/Hey1, a gene encoding a downstream transcription factor of Notch and ALK1 signaling pathways, show perinatal lethality on the C57BL/6N, C57BL/6N × C57BL/6J or C57BL/6N × 129X1/SvJ background. Hrt1/Hey1 null embryos display abnormal development of the fourth PAA (PAA4), which results in congenital vascular defects including right-sided aortic arch, interruption of the aortic arch and aberrant origin of the right subclavian artery. Impaired vessel formation occurs randomly in PAA4 of Hrt1/Hey1 null embryos, which likely causes the variability of congenital malformations. Endothelial cells in PAA4 of null embryos differentiate normally but are structurally disorganized at embryonic day 10.5 and 11.5. Vascular smooth muscle cells are nearly absent in the structurally-defective PAA4, despite the appropriate migration of cardiac neural crest cells into the fourth pharyngeal arches. Endothelial expression of Jag1 is down-regulated in the structurally-defective PAA4 of null embryos, which may be one of the mechanisms underlying the suppression of vascular smooth muscle cell differentiation. While the direct downstream phenomena of the Hrt1/Hey1 deficiency remain to be clarified, we suggest that Hrt1/Hey1-dependent transcriptional regulation has an important role in PAA formation during embryonic development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalMechanisms of Development
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Feb 1


  • Cardiovascular development
  • Congenital vascular malformations
  • Hairy-related transcription factors
  • Knockout mouse
  • Notch signaling
  • Pharyngeal arch artery defects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Embryology
  • Developmental Biology


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