HIF-1α is required for development of the sympathetic nervous system.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019; 116(27):13414-13423PN
The molecular mechanisms regulating sympathetic innervation of the heart during embryogenesis and its importance for cardiac development and function remain to be fully elucidated. We generated mice in which conditional knockout (CKO) of the Hif1a gene encoding the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) is mediated by an Islet1-Cre transgene expressed in the cardiac outflow tract, right ventricle and atrium, pharyngeal mesoderm, peripheral neurons, and hindlimbs. These Hif1aCKO mice demonstrate significantly decreased perinatal survival and impaired left ventricular function. The absence of HIF-1α impaired the survival and proliferation of preganglionic and postganglionic neurons of the sympathetic system, respectively. These defects resulted in hypoplasia of the sympathetic ganglion chain and decreased sympathetic innervation of the Hif1aCKO heart, which was associated with decreased cardiac contractility. The number of chromaffin cells in the adrenal medulla was also decreased, indicating a broad dependence on HIF-1α for development of the sympathetic nervous system.