Whereas cardiomyocytes (CMs) in the fetal heart divide, postnatal CMs fail to undergo karyokinesis and/or cytokinesis and therefore become polyploid or binucleated, a key process in terminal CM differentiation. This switch from a diploid proliferative CM to a terminally differentiated polyploid CM remains an enigma and seems an obstacle for heart regeneration. Here, we set out to identify the transcriptional landscape of CMs around birth using single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to predict transcription factors (TFs) involved in CM proliferation and terminal differentiation. To this end, we established an approach combining fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) with scRNA-seq of fixed CMs from developing (E16.5, P1, and P5) mouse hearts, and generated high-resolution single-cell transcriptomic maps of in vivo diploid and tetraploid CMs, increasing the CM resolution. We identified TF-networks regulating the G2/M phases of developing CMs around birth. ZEB1 (Zinc Finger E-Box Binding Homeobox 1), a hereto unknown TF in CM cell cycling, was found to regulate the highest number of cell cycle genes in cycling CMs at E16.5 but was downregulated around birth. CM ZEB1-knockdown reduced proliferation of E16.5 CMs, while ZEB1 overexpression at P0 after birth resulted in CM endoreplication. These data thus provide a ploidy stratified transcriptomic map of developing CMs and bring new insight to CM proliferation and endoreplication identifying ZEB1 as a key player in these processes.
- Heart development
- Zinc Finger E-Box Binding Homeobox 1 (Zeb1)