Open Access Research article

Requirement for integrin-linked kinase in neural crest migration and differentiation and outflow tract morphogenesis

Xiuqin Dai1, Weijian Jiang2, Qingquan Zhang1, Lian Xu1, Peng Geng1, Shaowei Zhuang1, Brian G Petrich3, Cizhong Jiang4, Luying Peng1, Shoumo Bhattacharya5, Sylvia M Evans3, Yunfu Sun1*, Ju Chen3* and Xingqun Liang13*

Author affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Arrhythmia, Ministry of Education, East Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, 150 Jimo Road, Shanghai 200120, China

2 New Era Stroke Care and Research Center, The Second Artillery General Hospital PLA, Beijing 100088, China

3 Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

4 School of Life Sciences and Technology, Tongji University, Shanghai 200120, China

5 Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Biology 2013, 11:107  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-11-107

Published: 16 October 2013

Abstract

Background

Neural crest defects lead to congenital heart disease involving outflow tract malformation. Integrin-linked-kinase (ILK) plays important roles in multiple cellular processes and embryogenesis. ILK is expressed in the neural crest, but its role in neural crest and outflow tract morphogenesis remains unknown.

Results

We ablated ILK specifically in the neural crest using the Wnt1-Cre transgene. ILK ablation resulted in abnormal migration and overpopulation of neural crest cells in the pharyngeal arches and outflow tract and a significant reduction in the expression of neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) and extracellular matrix components. ILK mutant embryos exhibited an enlarged common arterial trunk and ventricular septal defect. Reduced smooth muscle differentiation, but increased ossification and neurogenesis/innervation were observed in ILK mutant outflow tract that may partly be due to reduced transforming growth factor β2 (TGFβ2) but increased bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling. Consistent with these observations, microarray analysis of fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS)-sorted neural crest cells revealed reduced expression of genes associated with muscle differentiation, but increased expression of genes of neurogenesis and osteogenesis.

Conclusions

Our results demonstrate that ILK plays essential roles in neural crest and outflow tract development by mediating complex crosstalk between cell matrix and multiple signaling pathways. Changes in these pathways may collectively result in the unique neural crest and outflow tract phenotypes observed in ILK mutants.

Keywords:
ILK; Cardiac neural crest; Outflow tract; Migration; Congenital heart disease