Single-Cell RNA-Seq of the Developing Cardiac Outflow Tract Reveals Convergent Development of the Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells

Cell Rep. 2019 Jul 30;28(5):1346-1361.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.06.092.


Cardiac outflow tract (OFT) is a major hotspot for congenital heart diseases. A thorough understanding of the cellular diversity, transitions, and regulatory networks of normal OFT development is essential to decipher the etiology of OFT malformations. We performed single-cell transcriptomic sequencing of 55,611 mouse OFT cells from three developmental stages that generally correspond to the early, middle, and late stages of OFT remodeling and septation. Known cellular transitions, such as endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition, have been recapitulated. In particular, we identified convergent development of the vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) lineage where intermediate cell subpopulations were found to be involved in either myocardial-to-VSMC trans-differentiation or mesenchymal-to-VSMC transition. Finally, we uncovered transcriptional regulators potentially governing cellular transitions. Our study provides a single-cell reference map of cell states for normal OFT development and paves the way for further studies of the etiology of OFT malformations at the single-cell level.

Keywords: cardiac outflow tract; convergent development; single-cell RNA-seq; trans-differentiation; vascular smooth muscle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / genetics
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / metabolism*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / pathology
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / pathology
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / pathology
  • RNA-Seq*
  • Single-Cell Analysis*