The murine Mf1 and Mfh1 genes have overlapping patterns of expression in the embryo and encode forkhead/winged helix transcription factors with virtually identical DNA binding domains. Previous studies have shown that Mfh1 null mutants have severe cardiovascular defects, including interruptions and coarctations of the aortic arch and ventricular septal defects (Iida et al., Development 124, 4627-4638, 1997). Here, we show that Mf1(lacZ) homozygous null mutants also have a similar spectrum of cardiovascular abnormalities. Moreover, most embryos doubly heterozygous for Mfh1(tm1) and Mf1(lacZ) die before birth with interruptions and coarctations of the aortic arch, dysgenesis of the aortic and pulmonary valves, ventricular septal defects, and other cardiac anomalies. This nonallelic noncomplementation and the similar patterns of expression of the two genes in the mesenchyme and endothelial cells of the branchial arches, outflow tract, and heart suggest that Mf1 and Mfh1 play interactive roles in the morphogenesis of the cardiovascular system. Implications for the development of human congenital heart defects are discussed.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.