Vincentz et al., 2017, PLoS Genetics.pdf

The left ventricle of the heart drives blood flow throughout the body. Impaired left ventricle function, associated either with heart failure or with certain, severe cardiac birth defects, constitutes a significant cause of mortality. Understanding how heart muscle grows is vital to developing improved treatments for these diseases. Unfortunately, genetic tools necessary to study the left ventricle have been lacking. Here we engineer the first mouse line to enable specific genetic study of the left ventricle. We show that, unlike in the adult heart, the embryonic left ventricle is remarkably tolerant of cell death, as remaining cells have the capacity to proliferate and to restore heart function. Conversely, disruption of two related genes, Hand1 and Hand2, within the left ventricle causes cells to assume the wrong identity, and to consequently overgrow and impair cardiac function. Ablation of these mutant cells rescues heart function. We conclude that selective removal of defective heart muscle and replacement with healthy cells may provide an effective therapy to treat heart failure.