ABSTRACT: The lymphatic system is composed of a hierarchical network of fluid absorbing lymphatic capillaries and transporting collecting vessels. Despite distinct functions and morphologies, molecular mechanisms that regulate the identity of the different vessel types are poorly understood. Through transcriptional analysis of murine dermal lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs), we identified Foxp2, a member of the FOXP family of transcription factors implicated in speech development, as a collecting vessel signature gene. FOXP2 expression was induced after initiation of lymph flow in vivo and upon shear stress on primary LECs in vitro. Loss of FOXC2, the major flow-responsive transcriptional regulator of lymphatic valve formation, abolished FOXP2 induction in vitro and in vivo. Genetic deletion of Foxp2 in mice using the endothelial specific Tie2-Cre or the tamoxifen inducible LEC-specific Prox1-CreERT2 line resulted in enlarged collecting vessels and defective valves characterized by loss of NFATc1 activity. Our results identify FOXP2 as a new flow-induced transcriptional regulator of collecting lymphatic vessel morphogenesis and highlight the existence of unique transcription factor codes in the establishment of vessel-type specific endothelial cell identities.
Project description:Fluid shear forces have established roles in blood vascular development and function, but whether such forces similarly influence the low-flow lymphatic system is unknown. It has been difficult to test the contribution of fluid forces in vivo because mechanical or genetic perturbations that alter flow often have direct effects on vessel growth. Here, we investigated the functional role of flow in lymphatic vessel development using mice deficient for the platelet-specific receptor C-type lectin-like receptor 2 (CLEC2) as blood backfills the lymphatic network and blocks lymph flow in these animals. CLEC2-deficient animals exhibited normal growth of the primary mesenteric lymphatic plexus but failed to form valves in these vessels or remodel them into a structured, hierarchical network. Smooth muscle cell coverage (SMC coverage) of CLEC2-deficient lymphatic vessels was both premature and excessive, a phenotype identical to that observed with loss of the lymphatic endothelial transcription factor FOXC2. In vitro evaluation of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) revealed that low, reversing shear stress is sufficient to induce expression of genes required for lymphatic valve development and identified GATA2 as an upstream transcriptional regulator of FOXC2 and the lymphatic valve genetic program. These studies reveal that lymph flow initiates and regulates many of the key steps in collecting lymphatic vessel maturation and development.
Project description:Lymphatic vasculature regulates fluid homeostasis by returning interstitial fluid to blood circulation. Lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) are the building blocks of the entire lymphatic vasculature. LECs originate as a homogeneous population of cells predominantly from the embryonic veins and undergo stepwise morphogenesis to become the lymphatic capillaries, collecting vessels or valves. The molecular mechanisms underlying the morphogenesis of the lymphatic vasculature remain to be fully understood. Here we show that canonical Wnt/?-catenin signaling is necessary for lymphatic vascular morphogenesis. Lymphatic vascular-specific ablation of ?-catenin in mice prevents the formation of lymphatic and lymphovenous valves. Additionally, lymphatic vessel patterning is defective in these mice, with abnormal recruitment of mural cells. We found that oscillatory shear stress (OSS), which promotes lymphatic vessel maturation, triggers Wnt/?-catenin signaling in LECs. In turn, Wnt/?-catenin signaling controls the expression of several molecules, including the lymphedema-associated transcription factor FOXC2. Importantly, FOXC2 completely rescues the lymphatic vessel patterning defects in mice lacking ?-catenin. Thus, our work reveals that mechanical stimulation is a critical regulator of lymphatic vascular development via activation of Wnt/?-catenin signaling and, in turn, FOXC2.
Project description:Endothelial integrity is vital for homeostasis and adjusted to tissue demands. Although fluid uptake by lymphatic capillaries is a critical attribute of the lymphatic vasculature, the barrier function of collecting lymphatic vessels is also important by ensuring efficient fluid drainage as well as lymph node delivery of antigens and immune cells. Here, we identified the transmembrane ligand EphrinB2 and its receptor EphB4 as critical homeostatic regulators of collecting lymphatic vessel integrity. Conditional gene deletion in mice revealed that EphrinB2/EphB4 signalling is dispensable for blood endothelial barrier function, but required for stabilization of lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) junctions in different organs of juvenile and adult mice. Studies in primary human LECs further showed that basal EphrinB2/EphB4 signalling controls junctional localisation of the tight junction protein CLDN5 and junction stability via Rac1/Rho-mediated regulation of cytoskeletal contractility. EphrinB2/EphB4 signalling therefore provides a potential therapeutic target to selectively modulate lymphatic vessel permeability and function.
Project description:Postnatal inflammatory lymphangiogenesis presumably requires precise regulatory processes to properly assemble proliferating lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs). The specific mechanisms that regulate the assembly of LECs during new lymphatic vessel synthesis are unclear. Dynamic endothelial shuffling and rearrangement has been proposed as a mechanism of blood vessel growth. We developed genetic lineage-tracing strategies using an inductive transgenic technology to track the fate of entire tandem dimer tomato-positive (tdT) lymphatic vessels or small, in some cases clonal, populations of LECs. We coupled this platform with a suture-induced mouse model of corneal lymphangiogenesis and used different analytic microscopy techniques including serial live imaging to study the spatial properties of proliferating tdT(+) LEC progenies. LEC precursors and their progeny expanded from the corneal limbal lymphatic vessel and were assembled contiguously to comprise a subunit within a new lymphatic vessel. VE-cadherin blockade induced morphologic abnormalities in newly synthesized lymphatic vessels, but did not disrupt the tdT(+) lymphatic endothelial lineage assembly. Analysis of this static and dynamic data based largely on direct in vivo observations supports a model of lymphatic endothelial lineage assemblage during corneal inflammatory lymphangiogenesis.
Project description:Lymphatic vessels are critical for the maintenance of tissue fluid homeostasis and their dysfunction contributes to several human diseases. The activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1) is a transforming growth factor-? family type 1 receptor that is expressed on both blood and lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs). Its high-affinity ligand, bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9), has been shown to be critical for retinal angiogenesis. The aim of this work was to investigate whether BMP9 could play a role in lymphatic development. We found that Bmp9 deficiency in mice causes abnormal lymphatic development. Bmp9-knockout (KO) pups presented hyperplastic mesenteric collecting vessels that maintained LYVE-1 expression. In accordance with this result, we found that BMP9 inhibited LYVE-1 expression in LECs in an ALK1-dependent manner. Bmp9-KO pups also presented a significant reduction in the number and in the maturation of mesenteric lymphatic valves at embryonic day 18.5 and at postnatal days 0 and 4. Interestingly, the expression of several genes known to be involved in valve formation (Foxc2, Connexin37, EphrinB2, and Neuropilin1) was upregulated by BMP9 in LECS. Finally, we demonstrated that Bmp9-KO neonates and adult mice had decreased lymphatic draining efficiency. These data identify BMP9 as an important extracellular regulator in the maturation of the lymphatic vascular network affecting valve development and lymphatic vessel function.
Project description:Type 2 diabetes is associated with microvascular damage that causes frequent infections in the skin and chronic ulcers as a result of impaired wound healing. To trace the pathological changes, we performed a comprehensive analysis of lymphatic vessels in the skin of type 2 diabetic versus nondiabetic patients. The dermis revealed enhanced lymphatic vessel density, and transcriptional profiling of ex vivo isolated lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) identified 160 genes differentially expressed between type 2 diabetic and nondiabetic LECs. Bioinformatic analysis of deregulated genes uncovered sets functionally related to inflammation, lymphatic vessel remodeling, lymphangiogenesis, and lipid and small molecule transport. Furthermore, we traced CD68(+) macrophage accumulation and concomitant upregulation of tumor necrosis factor-? (TNF-?) levels in type 2 diabetic skin. TNF-? treatment of LECs and its specific blockade in vitro reproduced differential regulation of a gene set that led to enhanced LEC mobility and macrophage attachment, which was mediated by the LEC-derived chemokine CXCL10. This study identifies lymph vessel gene signatures directly correlated with type 2 diabetes skin manifestations. In addition, we provide evidence for paracrine cross-talk fostering macrophage recruitment to LECs as one pathophysiological process that might contribute to aberrant lymphangiogenesis and persistent inflammation in the skin.
Project description:Liver lymphatic vessels support liver function by draining interstitial fluid, cholesterol, fat, and immune cells for surveillance in the liver draining lymph node. Chronic liver disease is associated with increased inflammation and immune cell infiltrate. However, it is currently unknown if or how lymphatic vessels respond to increased inflammation and immune cell infiltrate in the liver during chronic disease. Here we demonstrate that lymphatic vessel abundance increases in patients with chronic liver disease and is associated with areas of fibrosis and immune cell infiltration. Using single-cell mRNA sequencing and multi-spectral immunofluorescence analysis we identified liver lymphatic endothelial cells and found that chronic liver disease results in lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) that are in active cell cycle with increased expression of CCL21. Additionally, we found that LECs from patients with NASH adopt a transcriptional program associated with increased IL13 signaling. Moreover, we found that oxidized low density lipoprotein, associated with NASH pathogenesis, induced the transcription and protein production of IL13 in LECs both in vitro and in a mouse model. Finally, we show that oxidized low density lipoprotein reduced the transcription of PROX1 and decreased lymphatic stability. Together these data indicate that LECs are active participants in the liver, expanding in an attempt to maintain tissue homeostasis. However, when inflammatory signals, such as oxidized low density lipoprotein are increased, as in NASH, lymphatic function declines and liver homeostasis is impeded.
Project description:Lymphatic vessels are thought to contribute to metastasis primarily by serving as a transportation system. It is widely believed that tumor cells enter lymph nodes passively by the flow of lymph. We demonstrate that lymph node lymphatic sinuses control tumor cell entry into the lymph node, which requires active tumor cell migration. In human and mouse tissues, CCL1 protein is detected in lymph node lymphatic sinuses but not in the peripheral lymphatics. CCR8, the receptor for CCL1, is strongly expressed by human malignant melanoma. Tumor cell migration to lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) in vitro is inhibited by blocking CCR8 or CCL1, and recombinant CCL1 promotes migration of CCR8(+) tumor cells. The proinflammatory mediators TNF, IL-1?, and LPS increase CCL1 production by LECs and tumor cell migration to LECs. In a mouse model, blocking CCR8 with the soluble antagonist or knockdown with shRNA significantly decreased lymph node metastasis. Notably, inhibition of CCR8 led to the arrest of tumor cells in the collecting lymphatic vessels at the junction with the lymph node subcapsular sinus. These data identify a novel function for CCL1-CCR8 in metastasis and lymph node LECs as a critical checkpoint for the entry of metastases into the lymph nodes.
Project description:Active lymph transport relies on smooth muscle cell (SMC) contractions around collecting lymphatic vessels, yet regulation of lymphatic vessel wall assembly and lymphatic pumping are poorly understood. Here, we identify Reelin, an extracellular matrix glycoprotein previously implicated in central nervous system development, as an important regulator of lymphatic vascular development. Reelin-deficient mice showed abnormal collecting lymphatic vessels, characterized by a reduced number of SMCs, abnormal expression of lymphatic capillary marker lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor 1 (LYVE-1), and impaired function. Furthermore, we show that SMC recruitment to lymphatic vessels stimulated release and proteolytic processing of endothelium-derived Reelin. Lymphatic endothelial cells in turn responded to Reelin by up-regulating monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP1) expression, which suggests an autocrine mechanism for Reelin-mediated control of endothelial factor expression upstream of SMC recruitment. These results uncover a mechanism by which Reelin signaling is activated by communication between the two cell types of the collecting lymphatic vessels--smooth muscle and endothelial cells--and highlight a hitherto unrecognized and important function for SMCs in lymphatic vessel morphogenesis and function.
Project description:RATIONALE:Lymphatic vessels function to drain interstitial fluid from a variety of tissues. Although shear stress generated by fluid flow is known to trigger lymphatic expansion and remodeling, the molecular basis underlying flow-induced lymphatic growth is unknown. OBJECTIVE:We aimed to gain a better understanding of the mechanism by which laminar shear stress activates lymphatic proliferation. METHODS AND RESULTS:Primary endothelial cells from dermal blood and lymphatic vessels (blood vascular endothelial cells and lymphatic endothelial cells [LECs]) were exposed to low-rate steady laminar flow. Shear stress-induced molecular and cellular responses were defined and verified using various mutant mouse models. Steady laminar flow induced the classic shear stress responses commonly in blood vascular endothelial cells and LECs. Surprisingly, however, only LECs showed enhanced cell proliferation by regulating the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A, VEGF-C, FGFR3, and p57/CDKN1C genes. As an early signal mediator, ORAI1, a pore subunit of the calcium release-activated calcium channel, was identified to induce the shear stress phenotypes and cell proliferation in LECs responding to the fluid flow. Mechanistically, ORAI1 induced upregulation of Krüppel-like factor (KLF)-2 and KLF4 in the flow-activated LECs, and the 2 KLF proteins cooperate to regulate VEGF-A, VEGF-C, FGFR3, and p57 by binding to the regulatory regions of the genes. Consistently, freshly isolated LECs from Orai1 knockout embryos displayed reduced expression of KLF2, KLF4, VEGF-A, VEGF-C, and FGFR3 and elevated expression of p57. Accordingly, mouse embryos deficient in Orai1, Klf2, or Klf4 showed a significantly reduced lymphatic density and impaired lymphatic development. CONCLUSIONS:Our study identified a molecular mechanism for laminar flow-activated LEC proliferation.