Recently we reported that Rearranged L-Myc Fusion, RLF, acts as an epigenetic modifier maintaining low levels of DNA methylation at CpG island shores and enhancers across the genome. Here we focus on the phenotype of Rlf null mutant mice generated via an ENU mutagenesis screen, to identify genes required for epigenetic regulation. RLF is expressed in a range of fetal mouse tissues, including the fetal heart. Comprehensive timed-mating studies are consistent with our previously reported findings that Rlf homozygous mutant mice rarely survive to adulthood, with the majority dying shortly after birth. Histological analysis of two independent Rlf ENU mutant lines at E11.5–E14.5 showed heart defects resembling those present in humans with Left Ventricular Non-Compaction (LVNC). In situ hybridisation analysis localized expression of Rlf to the endocardium and epicardium of embryonic and postnatal hearts, and transiently to cardiomyocytes during heart looping and early chamber formation stages. RNA-seq analysis of Rlf mutant hearts highlighted defective NOTCH pathway signalling, recently describe as one cause of LVNC. This study provides the first evidence that RLF is required for normal heart development in the mouse. The heart morphological defects present at high penetrance in Rlf mutants are consistent with features of LVNC in humans, and molecular analysis identified attenuated JAGGED 1 expression and NOTCH signalling as likely contributors to these defects. Our study highlights the importance of RLF-dependent epigenetic modifications to DNA for maintaining correct gene regulatory network and intercellular signalling interactions during heart chamber and septal development. Further investigations are needed to define the biochemical role of RLF in the developing heart, and whether RLF mutations are a cause of heart defects in humans.
- Cardiovascular development
- Left ventricular non-compaction
- NOTCH1 Signalling