Dgcr8 functions in the secondary heart field for outflow tract and right ventricle development in mammals

Dev Biol. 2024 Feb:506:72-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2023.12.005. Epub 2023 Dec 17.


The DGCR8 gene, encoding a critical miRNA processing protein, maps within the hemizygous region in patients with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Most patients have malformations of the cardiac outflow tract that is derived in part from the anterior second heart field (aSHF) mesoderm. To understand the function of Dgcr8 in the aSHF, we inactivated it in mice using Mef2c-AHF-Cre. Inactivation resulted in a fully penetrant persistent truncus arteriosus and a hypoplastic right ventricle leading to lethality by E14.5. To understand the molecular mechanism for this phenotype, we performed gene expression profiling of the aSHF and the cardiac outflow tract with right ventricle in conditional null versus normal mouse littermates at stage E9.5 prior to morphology changes. We identified dysregulation of mRNA gene expression, of which some are relevant to cardiogenesis. Many pri-miRNA genes were strongly increased in expression in mutant embryos along with reduced expression of mature miRNA genes. We further examined the individual, mature miRNAs that were decreased in expression along with pri-miRNAs that were accumulated that could be direct effects due to loss of Dgcr8. Among these genes, were miR-1a, miR-133a, miR-134, miR143 and miR145a, which have known functions in heart development. These early mRNA and miRNA changes may in part, explain the first steps that lead to the resulting phenotype in Dgcr8 aSHF conditional mutant embryos.

Keywords: 22q11.2 deletion syndrome; Dgcr8; cardiac development; mouse models; second heart field.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Heart Ventricles* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Dgcr8 protein, mouse