Transcription factors in cardiogenesis: The combinations that unlock the mysteries of the heart

Anthony B. Firulli, Bijoy D. Thattaliyath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


Heart formation is one of the first signs of organogenesis within the developing embryo and this process is conserved from flies to man. Completing the genetic roadmap of the molecular mechanisms that control the cell specification and differentiation of cells that form the developing heart has been an exciting and fast-moving area of research in the fields of molecular and developmental biology. At the core of these studies is an interest in the transcription factors that are responsible for initiation of a pluripotent cell to become programmed to the cardiac lineage and the subsequent transcription factors that implement the instructions set up by the cells commitment decision. To gain a better understanding of these pathways, cardiac-expressed transcription factors have been identified, cloned, overexpressed, and mutated to try to determine function. Although results vary depending on the gene in question, it is clear that there is a striking evolutionary conservation of the cardiogenic program among species. As we move up the evolutionary ladder toward man, we encounter cases of functional redundancy and combinatorial interactions that reflect the complex networks of gene expression that orchestrate heart development. This review focuses on what is known about the transcription factors implicated in heart formation and the role they play in this intricate genetic program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Review of Cytology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiogenesis
  • Cell differentiation
  • Cell specification
  • Heart development
  • Knockout mice
  • Promoter analysis
  • Transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Cell Biology

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