Loss of the transcription factor Meis1 prevents sympathetic neurons target-field innervation and increases susceptibility to sudden cardiac death

Elife. 2016 Feb 8;5:e11627. doi: 10.7554/eLife.11627.


Although cardio-vascular incidents and sudden cardiac death (SCD) are among the leading causes of premature death in the general population, the origins remain unidentified in many cases. Genome-wide association studies have identified Meis1 as a risk factor for SCD. We report that Meis1 inactivation in the mouse neural crest leads to an altered sympatho-vagal regulation of cardiac rhythmicity in adults characterized by a chronotropic incompetence and cardiac conduction defects, thus increasing the susceptibility to SCD. We demonstrated that Meis1 is a major regulator of sympathetic target-field innervation and that Meis1 deficient sympathetic neurons die by apoptosis from early embryonic stages to perinatal stages. In addition, we showed that Meis1 regulates the transcription of key molecules necessary for the endosomal machinery. Accordingly, the traffic of Rab5(+) endosomes is severely altered in Meis1-inactivated sympathetic neurons. These results suggest that Meis1 interacts with various trophic factors signaling pathways during postmitotic neurons differentiation.

Keywords: Homeodomain; arrhythmia; cardiac conduction; cell biology; clathrin; developmental biology; endocytosis; mouse; neurotrophin; stem cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / genetics*
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac*
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Mice
  • Myeloid Ecotropic Viral Integration Site 1 Protein
  • Neoplasm Proteins / deficiency*


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Meis1 protein, mouse
  • Myeloid Ecotropic Viral Integration Site 1 Protein
  • Neoplasm Proteins

Grant support

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.