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Transcriptome Dynamics and Potential Roles of Sox6 in the Postnatal Heart.


The postnatal heart undergoes highly coordinated developmental processes culminating in the complex physiologic properties of the adult heart. The molecular mechanisms of postnatal heart development remain largely unexplored despite their important clinical implications. To gain an integrated view of the dynamic changes in gene expression during postnatal heart development at the organ level, time-series transcriptome analyses of the postnatal hearts of neonatal through adult mice (P1, P7, P14, P30, and P60) were performed using a newly developed bioinformatics pipeline. We identified functional gene clusters by principal component analysis with self-organizing map clustering which revealed organized, discrete gene expression patterns corresponding to biological functions associated with the neonatal, juvenile and adult stages of postnatal heart development. Using weighted gene co-expression network analysis with bootstrap inference for each of these functional gene clusters, highly robust hub genes were identified which likely play key roles in regulating expression of co-expressed, functionally linked genes. Additionally, motivated by the role of the transcription factor Sox6 in the functional maturation of skeletal muscle, the role of Sox6 in the postnatal maturation of cardiac muscle was investigated. Differentially expressed transcriptome analyses between Sox6 knockout (KO) and control hearts uncovered significant upregulation of genes involved in cell proliferation at postnatal day 7 (P7) in the Sox6 KO heart. This result was validated by detecting mitotically active cells in the P7 Sox6 KO heart. The current report provides a framework for the complex molecular processes of postnatal heart development, thus enabling systematic dissection of the developmental regression observed in the stressed and failing adult heart.

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