Prdm6 controls heart development by regulating neural crest cell differentiation and migration

The molecular mechanisms that drive the acquisition of distinct neural crest cell (NCC) fates is still poorly understood. Here, we identified Prdm6 as an epigenetic modifier that temporally and spatially regulates the expression of NCC specifiers and determines the fate of a subset of migrating cardiac NCCs (CNCCs). Using transcriptomic analysis and genetic and fate mapping approaches in transgenic mice, we showed that disruption of Prdm6 was associated with impaired CNCC differentiation, delamination, and migration and led to patent ductus arteriosus (DA) and ventricular noncompaction. Bulk and single-cell RNA-Seq analyses of the DA and CNCCs identified Prdm6 as a regulator of a network of CNCC specification genes, including Wnt1, Tfap2b, and Sox9. Loss of Prdm6 in CNCCs diminished its expression in the pre-epithelial-mesenchymal transition (pre-EMT) cluster, resulting in the retention of NCCs in the dorsal neural tube. This defect was associated with diminished H4K20 monomethylation and G1-S progression and augmented Wnt1 transcript levels in pre-EMT and neural tube clusters, which we showed was the major driver of the impaired CNCC migration. Altogether, these findings revealed Prdm6 as a key regulator of CNCC differentiation and migration and identified Prdm6 and its regulated network as potential targets for the treatment of congenital heart diseases.