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Keywords:

  • Polycomb Group (PcG) and Trithorax Group (TrxG) proteins;
  • heart disease;
  • cardiac development

Abstract

Heart disease is a leading cause of death and disability in developed countries. Heart disease includes a broad range of diseases that affect the development and/or function of the cardiovascular system. Some of these diseases, such as congenital heart defects, are present at birth. Others develop over time and may be influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Many of the known heart diseases are associated with abnormal expression of genes. Understanding the factors and mechanisms that regulate gene expression in the heart is essential for the detection, treatment, and prevention of heart diseases. Polycomb Group (PcG) and Trithorax Group (TrxG) proteins are special families of chromatin factors that regulate developmental gene expression in many tissues and organs. Accumulating evidence suggests that these proteins are important regulators of development and function of the heart as well. A better understanding of their roles and functional mechanisms will translate into new opportunities for combating heart disease. Developmental Dynamics 241:1021–1033, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.