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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Plasticity of endothelial cells during arterial-venous differentiation in the avian embryo.

Remodeling of the primary vascular system of the embryo into arteries and veins has long been thought to depend largely on the influence of hemodynamic forces. This view was recently challenged by the discovery of several molecules specifically expressed by arterial or venous endothelial cells. We here analysed the expression of neuropilin-1 and TIE2, two transmembrane receptors known to play a role in vascular development. In birds, neuropilin-1 was expressed by arterial endothelium and wall cells, but absent from veins. TIE2 was strongly expressed in embryonic veins, but only weakly transcribed in most arteries. To examine whether endothelial cells are committed to an arterial or venous fate once they express these specific receptors, we constructed quail-chick chimeras. The dorsal aorta, carotid artery and the cardinal and jugular veins were isolated together with the vessel wall from quail embryos between embryonic day 2 to 15 and grafted into the coelom of chick hosts. Until embryonic day 7, all grafts yielded endothelial cells that colonized both host arteries and veins. After embryonic day 7, endothelial plasticity was progressively lost and from embryonic day 11 grafts of arteries yielded endothelial cells that colonized only chick arteries and rarely reached the host veins, while grafts of jugular veins colonized mainly host veins. When isolated from the vessel wall, quail aortic endothelial cells from embryonic day 11 embryos were able to colonize both host arteries and veins. Our results show that despite the expression of arterial or venous markers the endothelium remains plastic with regard to arterial-venous differentiation until late in embryonic development and point to a role for the vessel wall in endothelial plasticity and vessel identity.[1]


  1. Plasticity of endothelial cells during arterial-venous differentiation in the avian embryo. Moyon, D., Pardanaud, L., Yuan, L., Bréant, C., Eichmann, A. Development (2001) [Pubmed]
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