Ets1-related protein is a key regulator of vasculogenesis in zebrafish.
ABSTRACT: During embryonic development, multiple signaling pathways control specification, migration, and differentiation of the vascular endothelial cell precursors, angioblasts. No single gene responsible for the commitment of mesenchymal cells to the angioblast cell fate has been identified as yet. Here we report characterization and functional studies of Etsrp, a novel zebrafish ETS domain protein. etsrp embryonic expression is only restricted to vascular endothelial cells and their earliest precursors. Morpholino knockdown of Etsrp protein function resulted in the complete absence of circulation in zebrafish embryos. Angioblasts in etsrp-morpholino-injected embryos (morphants) failed to undergo migration and differentiation and did not coalesce into functional blood vessels. Expression of all vascular endothelial molecular markers tested was severely reduced in etsrp morphants, whereas hematopoietic markers were not affected. Overexpression of etsrp RNA caused multiple cell types to express vascular endothelial markers. etsrp RNA restored expression of vascular markers in cloche mutants, defective in hematopoietic and endothelial cell formation, arguing that etsrp functions downstream of cloche in angioblast formation. etsrp gene function was also required for endothelial marker induction by the vascular endothelial growth factor (vegf) and stem cell leukemia (scl/tal1). These results demonstrate that Etsrp is necessary and sufficient for the initiation of vasculogenesis.
Project description:Recent lineage studies suggest that hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) may be derived from endothelial cells. However, the genetic hierarchy governing the emergence of HSCs remains elusive. We report here that zebrafish ets1-related protein (etsrp), which is essential for vascular endothelial development, also plays a critical role in the initiation of definitive hematopoiesis by controlling the expression of 2 stem cell leukemia (scl) isoforms (scl-alpha and scl-beta) in angioblasts. In etsrp morphants, which are deficient in endothelial and HSC development, scl-alpha alone partially rescues angioblast specification, arterial-venous differentiation, and the expression of HSC markers, runx1 and c-myb, whereas scl-beta requires angioblast rescue by fli1a to restore runx1 expression. Interestingly, when vascular endothelial growth factor (Vegf) signaling is inhibited, HSC marker expression can still be restored by scl-alpha in etsrp morphants, whereas the rescue of arterial ephrinb2a expression is blocked. Furthermore, both scl isoforms partially rescue runx1 but not ephrinb2a expression in embryos deficient in Vegf signaling. Our data suggest that downstream of etsrp, scl-alpha and fli1a specify the angioblasts, whereas scl-beta further initiates HSC specification from this angioblast population, and that Vegf signaling acts upstream of scl-beta during definitive hematopoiesis.
Project description:Endothelial cells are developmentally derived from angioblasts specified in the mesodermal germ cell layer. The transcription factor etsrp/etv2 is at the top of the known genetic hierarchy for angioblast development. The transcriptional events that induce etsrp expression and angioblast specification are not well understood.We generated etsrp:gfp transgenic zebrafish and used them to identify regulatory regions and transcription factors critical for etsrp expression and angioblast specification from mesoderm.To investigate the mechanisms that initiate angioblast cell transcription during embryogenesis, we have performed promoter analysis of the etsrp locus in zebrafish. We describe three enhancer elements sufficient for endothelial gene expression when place in front of a heterologous promoter. The deletion of all 3 regulatory regions led to a near complete loss of endothelial expression from the etsrp promoter. One of the enhancers, located 2.3 kb upstream of etsrp contains a consensus FOX binding site that binds Foxc1a and Foxc1b in vitro by EMSA and in vivo using ChIP. Combined knockdown of foxc1a/b, using morpholinos, led to a significant decrease in etsrp expression at early developmental stages as measured by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization. Decreased expression of primitive erythrocyte genes scl and gata1 was also observed, whereas pronephric gene pax2a was relatively normal in expression level and pattern.These findings identify mesodermal foxc1a/b as a direct upstream regulator of etsrp in angioblasts. This establishes a new molecular link in the process of mesoderm specification into angioblast.
Project description:Erg, a member of the ETS family of transcription factors, has been implicated by previous studies in endothelial and haematopoietic development. Deregulation of the human ERG locus is associated with acute myeloid leukaemia, prostate cancer and Ewing's sarcoma. To better understand the role of Erg during early development, we utilised the zebrafish as a model amenable to descriptive and functional studies in vivo. Zebrafish have a single erg gene that is expressed in mesoderm and its vascular derivatives during angioblast migration, vasculogenesis and early angiogenesis. Mutant and morphant expression analyses placed erg in a genetic pathway downstream of cloche, tal1/scl and etsrp during early angioblast migration. Furthermore, a combination of gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies suggested a redundant yet specific role for erg in both angioblast specification/proliferation and early angiogenesis, and a synergistic interaction with the critical ETS factor etsrp.
Project description:A key step in the de novo formation of the embryonic vasculature is the migration of endothelial precursors, the angioblasts, to the position of the future vessels. To form the first axial vessels, angioblasts migrate towards the midline and coalesce underneath the notochord. Vascular endothelial growth factor has been proposed to serve as a chemoattractant for the angioblasts and to regulate this medial migration. Here we challenge this model and instead demonstrate that angioblasts rely on their intrinsic expression of Apelin receptors (Aplr, APJ) for their migration to the midline. We further show that during this angioblast migration Apelin receptor signaling is mainly triggered by the recently discovered ligand Elabela (Ela). As neither of the ligands Ela or Apelin (Apln) nor their receptors have previously been implicated in regulating angioblast migration, we hereby provide a novel mechanism for regulating vasculogenesis, with direct relevance to physiological and pathological angiogenesis.
Project description:To evaluate potential roles of nitric oxide (NO) in the regulation of the endothelial lineage and neovascular processes (vasculogenesis and angiogenesis) we evaluated endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and phosphorylated eNOS (p-eNOS) expression in 7.2-8.5 days post-coitum (dpc) mouse embryos. Analysis revealed that p-eNOS((S1177)) but not P-eNOS((S617)) or P-eNOS((T495)) was expressed in a subpopulation of angioblasts (TAL-1(+)/Flk-1(+)/CD31(-)/CD34(-)/VE-Cadherin(-)) at 7.2 dpc. A role of the VEGF/Akt1/eNOS signaling pathway in the regulation of the endothelial cell (EC) lineage was suggested by the strong correlation observed between cell division and p-eNOS((S1177)) expression in both angioblasts and embryonic endothelial cells (EECs, TAL-1(+)/Flk-1(+)/CD31(+)/CD34(+)/VE-Cadherin(+)). Our studies using Akt1 null mouse embryos show a reduction in p-eNOS((S1177)) expression in angioblast and EECs that is correlated with a decrease in endothelial cell proliferation and results in changes in VEGF-induced vascular patterning. Further, we show that VEGF-mediated cell proliferation in Flk-1(+) cells in allantoic cultures is decreased by pharmacological inhibitors of the VEGF/Akt1/eNOS signaling pathways. Taken together, our findings suggest that VEGF-mediated eNOS phosphorylation on Ser1177 regulates angioblast and EEC division, which underlies the formation of blood vessels and vascular networks.
Project description:The hemangioblast is a multipotential progenitor, which is derived from the mesoderm and can further differentiate into hematopoietic and endothelial lineages. The molecular mechanism governing the specification of hemangioblasts is fundamental to regenerative medicine based on embryonic stem cells for the treatment of various hematologic and vascular diseases. Here we show that aggf1 acts at the top of the genetic regulatory hierarchy in the specification of hemangioblasts in zebrafish. Knockdown of aggf1 expression decreases expression of endothelial cell-specific markers (cdh5, admr) and disrupts primitive hematopoiesis as shown by a decreased number of erythroid cells and reduced expression of gata1 (marker for erythroid progenitors) and pu.1 (myeloid progenitors). Aggf1 knockdown also decreases expression of runx1 and c-myb, indicating that it is required for specification of hematopoietic stem cells (definitive hematopoiesis). Aggf1 knockdown led to dramatically reduced expression of hemangioblast markers fli1, etsrp, lmo2, and scl, and hematopoietic/endothelial defects in aggf1 morphants were rescued by messenger RNA for scl, fli-vp16, or etsrp. Taken together, these data indicate that aggf1 is involved in differentiation of both hematopoietic and endothelial lineages and that aggf1 acts upstream of scl, fli1, and etsrp in specification of hemangioblasts.
Project description:SCL/Tal-1 is a transcription factor necessary for hematopoietic stem cell differentiation. Although SCL is also expressed in endothelial and neural progenitors, SCL function in these cells remains unknown. In the zebrafish mutant cloche (clo), SCL expression is nearly abolished in hematopoietic and vascular tissues. Correspondingly, it was shown previously that clo fails to differentiate blood and angioblasts. Genetic analysis demonstrates that the clo mutation is not linked to the SCL locus. Forced expression of SCL in clo embryos rescues the blood and vascular defects, suggesting that SCL acts downstream of clo to specify hematopoietic and vascular differentiation.
Project description:Genetic regulators and signaling pathways are important for the formation of blood vessels. Transcription factors controlling vein identity, intersegmental vessels (ISV) growth and caudal vein plexus (CVP) formation in zebrafish are little understood as yet. Here, we show the importance of the nuclear receptor subfamily member 1A (nr2f1a) in zebrafish vascular development. Amino acid sequence alignment and phylogenetic analysis of nr2f1a is highly conserved among the vertebrates. Our in situ hybridization results showed nr2f1a mRNA is expressed in the lateral plate mesoderm at 18 somite stage and in vessels at 24-30 hpf, suggesting its roles in vasculization. Consistent with this morpholino-based knockdown of nr2fla impaired ISV growth and failed to develop fenestrated vascular structure in CVP, suggesting that nr2f1a has important roles in controlling ISV and CVP growth. Consequently, nr2f1a morphants showed pericardial edema and circulation defects. We further demonstrated reduced ISV cells and decreased CVP endothelial cells sprouting in nr2f1a morphants, indicating the growth impairment of ISV and CVP is due to a decrease of cell proliferation and migration, but not results from cell death in endothelial cells after morpholino knockdown. To test molecular mechanisms and signals that are associated with nr2f1a, we examined the expression of vascular markers. We found that a loss of nr2f1a results in a decreased expression of vein/ISV specific markers, flt4, mrc1, vascular markers stabilin and ephrinb2. This indicates the regulatory role of nr2f1a in controlling vascular development. We further showed that nr2f1a likely interact with Notch signaling by examining nr2f1a expression in rbpsuh morphants and DAPT-treatment embryos. Together, we show nr2f1a plays a critical role for vascular development in zebrafish.
Project description:During embryonic development, endothelial precursor cells (angioblasts) migrate relatively long distances to form the primary vascular plexus. The migratory behavior of angioblasts and localization of the primitive blood vessels is tightly regulated by pro-angiogenic and anti-angiogenic factors encountered in the embryonic environment. Despite the importance of corneal avascularity to proper vision, it is not known when avascularity is established in the developing cornea and how pro- and anti-angiogenic factors regulate this process.Using Tg(tie1:H2B:eYFP) transgenic quail embryos to visualize fluorescently labeled angioblasts, we show that the presumptive cornea remains avascular despite the invasion of cells from the periocular region where migratory angioblasts reside and form the primary vasculature. Semiquantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis and spatiotemporal examination of gene expression revealed that pro- and anti-angiogenic factors were expressed in patterns indicating their potential roles in angioblast guidance.Our findings show for the first time that chick corneal avascularity is established and maintained during development as the periocular vasculature forms. We also identify potential candidate pro- and anti-angiogenic factors that may play crucial roles during vascular patterning in the anterior eye.
Project description:Ras proteins are small GTPases that regulate cellular growth and differentiation. Components of the Ras signaling pathway have been shown to be important during embryonic vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. Here, we report that Rasip1, which encodes a novel Ras-interacting protein, is strongly expressed in vascular endothelial cells throughout development, in both mouse and frog. Similar to the well-characterized vascular markers VEGFR2 and PECAM, Rasip1 is specifically expressed in angioblasts prior to vessel formation, in the initial embryonic vascular plexus, in the growing blood vessels during angiogenesis and in the endothelium of mature blood vessels into the postnatal period. Rasip1 expression is undetectable in VEGFR2 null embryos, which lack endothelial cells, suggesting that Rasip1 is endothelial specific. siRNA-mediated reduction of Rasip1 severely impairs angiogenesis and motility in endothelial cell cultures, and morpholino knockdown experiments in frog embryos demonstrate that Rasip1 is required for embryonic vessel formation in vivo. Together, these data identify Rasip1 as a novel endothelial factor that plays an essential role in vascular development.