Damaging GATA6 variants cause cardiac outflow tract defects, sometimes with pancreatic and diaphragmic malformations. To define molecular mechanisms for these diverse developmental defects, we studied transcriptional and epigenetic responses to GATA6 loss of function (LoF) and missense variants during cardiomyocyte differentiation of isogenic human induced pluripotent stem cells. We show that GATA6 is a pioneer factor in cardiac development, regulating SMYD1 that activates HAND2, and KDR that with HAND2 orchestrates outflow tract formation. LoF variants perturbed cardiac genes and also endoderm lineage genes that direct PDX1 expression and pancreatic development. Remarkably, an exon 4 GATA6 missense variant, highly associated with extra-cardiac malformations, caused ectopic pioneer activities, profoundly diminishing GATA4, FOXA1/2, and PDX1 expression and increasing normal retinoic acid signaling that promotes diaphragm development. These aberrant epigenetic and transcriptional signatures illuminate the molecular mechanisms for cardiovascular malformations, pancreas and diaphragm dysgenesis that arise in patients with distinct GATA6 variants.
CRISPR, development, developmental biology, gene mutation, heart, human, iPSC, regenerative medicine, stem cells