The participating research centers of the CvDC are using a variety of genome-wide approaches to build a higher-order cardiac development network model. High-throughput sequencing technology will shed light on global transcriptional and epigenetic regulation, RNA expression, and microRNA feedback mechanisms. Forward genetic screening in mice will expand the number of mutant mouse lines that display phenotypes at the stages most relevant for human heart defects. Selected candidate molecules identified by the high-throughput techniques will be functionally validated by perturbation studies and subsequent characterization. The Consortium will use a variety of species models including mouse, chick, and zebrafish; and, due to the collaborative nature of the Consortium, findings will be rapidly translated and validated in these different organism models.
An important goal of the CvDC is to fully describe the complex regulatory networks that affect cardiac development. However, the ultimate goal is to improve the lives of patients. Through interactions with its sister groups in the Bench to Bassinet program, the CvDC will identify and pursue those basic discoveries with the greatest potential to translate to clinical applications for treatment and prevention.