Cardiac progenitor cells are multipotent and give rise to cardiac endothelium, smooth muscle, and cardiomyocytes. Here, we define and characterize the cardiomyoblast intermediate that is committed to the cardiomyocyte fate, and we characterize the niche signals that regulate commitment. Cardiomyoblasts express Hopx, which functions to coordinate local Bmp signals to inhibit the Wnt pathway, thus promoting cardiomyogenesis. Hopx integrates Bmp and Wnt signaling by physically interacting with activated Smads and repressing Wnt genes. The identification of the committed cardiomyoblast that retains proliferative potential will inform cardiac regenerative therapeutics. In addition, Bmp signals characterize adult stem cell niches in other tissues where Hopx-mediated inhibition of Wnt is likely to contribute to stem cell quiescence and to explain the role of Hopx as a tumor suppressor.
Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.