Functional profiling of human atrial and ventricular gene expression

Andreas S. Barth, Sylvia Merk, Elisabeth Arnoldi, Ludwig Zwermann, Patrick Kloos, Mathias Gebauer, Klaus Steinmeyer, Markus Bleich, Stefan Kääb, Arne Pfeufer, Peter Überfuhr, Martin Dugas, Gerhard Steinbeck, Michael Nabauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The purpose of our investigation was to identify the transcriptional basis for ultrastructural and functional specialization of human atria and ventricles. Using exploratory microarray analysis (Affymetrix U133A+B), we detected 11,740 transcripts expressed in human heart, representing the most comprehensive report of the human myocardial transcriptome to date. Variation in gene expression between atria and ventricles accounted for the largest differences in this data set, as 3.300 and 2.974 transcripts showed higher expression in atria and ventricles, respectively. Functional classification based on Gene Ontology identified chamber-specific patterns of gene expression and provided molecular insights into the regional specialization of cardiomyocytes, correlating important functional pathways to transcriptional activity: Ventricular myocytes preferentially express genes satisfying contractile and energetic requirements, while atrial myocytes exhibit specific transcriptional activities related to neurohumoral function. In addition, several pro-fibrotic and apoptotic pathways were concentrated in atrial myocardium, substantiating the higher susceptibility of atria to programmed cell death and extracellular matrix remodelling observed in human and experimental animal models of heart failure. Differences in transcriptional profiles of atrial and ventricular myocardium thus provide molecular insights into myocardial cell diversity and distinct region-specific adaptations to physiological and pathophysiological conditions. Moreover, as major functional classes of atrial- and ventricular-specific transcripts were common to human and murine myocardium, an evolutionarily conserved chamber-specific expression pattern in mammalian myocardium is suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-208
Number of pages8
JournalPflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Atrium
  • Contraction
  • Functional genomics
  • Myocardium
  • Signal transduction
  • Ventricle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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