c-kit+ cells minimally contribute cardiomyocytes to the heart

Nature. 2014 May 15;509(7500):337-41. doi: 10.1038/nature13309. Epub 2014 May 7.


If and how the heart regenerates after an injury event is highly debated. c-kit-expressing cardiac progenitor cells have been reported as the primary source for generation of new myocardium after injury. Here we generated two genetic approaches in mice to examine whether endogenous c-kit(+) cells contribute differentiated cardiomyocytes to the heart during development, with ageing or after injury in adulthood. A complementary DNA encoding either Cre recombinase or a tamoxifen-inducible MerCreMer chimaeric protein was targeted to the Kit locus in mice and then bred with reporter lines to permanently mark cell lineage. Endogenous c-kit(+) cells did produce new cardiomyocytes within the heart, although at a percentage of approximately 0.03 or less, and if a preponderance towards cellular fusion is considered, the percentage falls to below approximately 0.008. By contrast, c-kit(+) cells amply generated cardiac endothelial cells. Thus, endogenous c-kit(+) cells can generate cardiomyocytes within the heart, although probably at a functionally insignificant level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Fusion
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Heart / growth & development
  • Heart Injuries / pathology*
  • Integrases / genetics
  • Integrases / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Myoblasts, Cardiac / cytology*
  • Myoblasts, Cardiac / metabolism*
  • Myocardium / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism*
  • Regeneration / physiology
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology


  • Tamoxifen
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases