Abstract - The adult mammalian heart consists of mononuclear and binuclear cardiomyocytes (CMs) with various ploidies. However, it remains unclear whether a variation in ploidy or number of nuclei is associated with distinct functions and injury responses in CMs, including regeneration. Therefore, we investigated transcriptomes and cellular as well as nuclear features of mononucleated and binucleated CMs in adult mouse hearts with and without injury.
To be able to identify the role of ploidy we analyzed control and failing human ventricular CMs because human CMs show a larger and disease-sensitive degree of polyploidization. Using transgenic Myh6-H2BmCh to identify mononucleated and binucleated mouse CMs, we found that cellular volume and RNA content were similar in both. On average nuclei of mononuclear CMs showed a 2-fold higher ploidy, as compared to binuclear CMs indicating that most mononuclear CMs are tetraploid. After myocardial infarction mononucleated and binucleated CMs in the border zone of the lesion responded with hypertrophy and corresponding changes in gene expression, as well as a low level of induction of cell cycle gene expression. Human CMs allowed us to study a wide range of polyploidy spanning from 2n to 16n.
Notably, basal as well as pathological gene expression signatures and programs in failing CMs proved to be independent of ploidy. In summary, gene expression profiles were induced in proximity to injury, but independent of number of nuclei or ploidy levels in CMs.