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Leptin affects endocardial cushion formation by modulating EMT and migration via Akt signaling cascades

The Journal of Cell Biology
The Rockefeller University Press
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1083/jcb.200708197
  • Research Articles
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Blood circulation is dependent on heart valves to direct blood flow through the heart and great vessels. Valve development relies on epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), a central feature of embryonic development and metastatic cancer. Abnormal EMT and remodeling contribute to the etiology of several congenital heart defects. Leptin and its receptor were detected in the mouse embryonic heart. Using an ex vivo model of cardiac EMT, the inhibition of leptin results in a signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 and Snail/vascular endothelial cadherin–independent decrease in EMT and migration. Our data suggest that an Akt signaling pathway underlies the observed phenotype. Furthermore, loss of leptin phenocopied the functional inhibition of αvβ3 integrin receptor and resulted in decreased αvβ3 integrin and matrix metalloprotease 2, suggesting that the leptin signaling pathway is involved in adhesion and migration processes. This study adds leptin to the repertoire of factors that mediate EMT and, for the first time, demonstrates a role for the interleukin 6 family in embryonic EMT.

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