Coxsackievirus-adenovirus receptor (CAR) is essential for early embryonic cardiac development

Armin A. Dorner, Frank Wegmann, Stefan Butz, Karen Wolburg-Buchholz, Hartwig Wolburg, Andreas Mack, Ines Nasdala, Benjamin August, Jürgen Westermann, Fritz G. Rathjen, Dietmar Vestweber*

*Corresponding author for this work
95 Citations (Scopus)


The coxsackievirus-adenovirus receptor (CAR) is a cell contact protein on various cell types with unknown physiological function. It belongs to a subfamily of the immunoglobulin-superfamily of which some members are junctional adhesion molecules on epithelial and/or endothelial cells. CAR is dominantly expressed in the hearts and brains of mice until the newborne phase after which it becomes mainly restricted to various epithelial cells. To understand more about the physiological function of CAR, we have generated CAR-deficient mice by gene targeting. We found that these mice die between E11.5 and E13.5 of embryonal development. Ultrastructural analysis of cardiomyocytes revealed that the density of myofibrils was reduced and that their orientation and bundling was disorganized. In addition, mitochondria were enlarged and glycogen storage strongly enriched. In line with these defects, we observed pericardial edema formation as a clear sign of insufficient heart function. Developmental abnormalities likely to be secondary effects of gene ablation were the persistent singular cardial atrio-ventricular canal and dilatations of larger blood vessels such as the cardinal veins. The secondary nature of these defects was supported by the fact that CAR was not expressed on vascular cells or on cells of the vascular wall. No obvious signs for alterations of the histological organization of the placenta were observed. We conclude that CAR is required for embryonal heart development, most likely due to its function during the organization of myofibrils in cardiomyocytes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number15
Pages (from-to)3509-3521
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 01.08.2005

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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