Organogenesis of the vertebrate heart is a highly specialized process involving progressive specification and differentiation of distinct embryonic cardiac progenitor cell populations driven by specialized gene programming events. Likewise, the onset of pathologies in the adult heart, including cardiac hypertrophy, involves the reactivation of embryonic gene programs. In both cases, these intricate genomic events are temporally and spatially regulated by complex signaling networks and gene regulatory networks. Apart from well-established transcriptional mechanisms, increasing evidence indicates that gene programming in both the developing and the diseased myocardium are under epigenetic control by non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). MicroRNAs regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level, and numerous studies have now established critical roles for this species of tiny RNAs in a broad range of aspects from cardiogenesis towards adult heart failure. Recent reports now also implicate the larger family of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in these processes as well. Here we discuss the involvement of these two ncRNA classes in proper cardiac development and hypertrophic disease processes of the adult myocardium. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Non-coding RNAs.
- Cardiovascular Diseases
- Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
- Gene Regulatory Networks
- RNA, Long Noncoding