Activation of a transient progenitor state in the epicardium is required for zebrafish heart regeneration.

TitleActivation of a transient progenitor state in the epicardium is required for zebrafish heart regeneration.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsXia, Y, Duca, S, Perder, B, Dündar, F, Zumbo, P, Qiu, M, Yao, J, Cao, Y, Harrison, MRM, Zangi, L, Betel, D, Cao, J
JournalNat Commun
Date Published2022 Dec 13
KeywordsAnimals, Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition, Extracellular Matrix Proteins, Heart, Heart Injuries, Pericardium, Proteoglycans, Stem Cells, Zebrafish, Zebrafish Proteins

The epicardium, a mesothelial cell tissue that encompasses vertebrate hearts, supports heart regeneration after injury through paracrine effects and as a source of multipotent progenitors. However, the progenitor state in the adult epicardium has yet to be defined. Through single-cell RNA-sequencing of isolated epicardial cells from uninjured and regenerating adult zebrafish hearts, we define the epithelial and mesenchymal subsets of the epicardium. We further identify a transiently activated epicardial progenitor cell (aEPC) subpopulation marked by ptx3a and col12a1b expression. Upon cardiac injury, aEPCs emerge from the epithelial epicardium, migrate to enclose the wound, undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and differentiate into mural cells and pdgfra+hapln1a+ mesenchymal epicardial cells. These EMT and differentiation processes are regulated by the Tgfβ pathway. Conditional ablation of aEPCs blocks heart regeneration through reduced nrg1 expression and mesenchymal cell number. Our findings identify a transient progenitor population of the adult epicardium that is indispensable for heart regeneration and highlight it as a potential target for enhancing cardiac repair.

Alternate JournalNat Commun
PubMed ID36513650
PubMed Central IDPMC9747719