AIM: To trace the cell origin of the cells involved in postnatal cardiomyogenesis.
MATERIALS & METHODS: Nkx2.5 enhancer-eGFP (Nkx2.5 enh-eGFP) mice were used to test the cardiomyogenic potential of Nkx2.5 enhancer-expressing cells. By analyzing Cre excision of activated Nkx2.5-eGFP+ cells from different lineage-Cre/Nkx2.5 enh-eGFP/ROSA26 reporter mice, we traced the developmental origin of Nkx2.5 enhancer-expressing cells.
RESULTS: Nkx2.5 enhancer-expressing cells could differentiate into striated cardiomyocytes both in vitro and in vivo. Nkx2.5-eGFP+ cells increased remarkably after experimental myocardial infarction (MI). The post-MI Nkx2.5-eGFP+ cells originated from the embryonic epicardial cells, not from the pre-existing cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, cardiac neural crest cells or perinatal/postnatal epicardial cells.
CONCLUSION: Postnatal Nkx2.5 enhancer-expressing cells are cardiomyogenic progenitor cells and originate from embryonic epicardium-derived cells.