The mammalian lymphatic vasculature is important for returning fluids from the extracellular tissue milieu back to the blood circulation. We showed previously that Prox1 dosage is important for the development of the mammalian lymphatic vasculature. The lack of Prox1 activity results in the complete absence of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs). In Prox1 heterozygous embryos, the number of LECs is reduced because of a decrease in the progenitor pool in the cardinal vein. This reduction is caused by some progenitor cells being unable to maintain Prox1 expression. In this study, we identified Vegfr3, the cognate receptor of the lymphangiogenic growth factor Vegfc, as a dosage-dependent, direct in vivo target of Prox1. Using various mouse models, we also determined that Vegfr3 regulates Prox1 by establishing a feedback loop necessary to maintain the identity of LEC progenitors and that Vegfc-mediated activation of Vegfr3 signaling is necessary to maintain Prox1 expression in LEC progenitors. We propose that this feedback loop is the main sensing mechanism controlling the number of LEC progenitors and, as a consequence, the number of budding LECs that will form the embryonic lymphatic vasculature.
Primitive lymphatic vessels are remodeled into functionally specialized initial and collecting lymphatics during development. Lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) junctions in initial lymphatics transform from a zipper-like to a button-like pattern during collecting vessel development, but what regulates this process is largely unknown. Angiopoietin 2 (Ang2) deficiency leads to abnormal lymphatic vessels. Here we found that an ANG2-blocking antibody inhibited embryonic lymphangiogenesis, whereas endothelium-specific ANG2 overexpression induced lymphatic hyperplasia. ANG2 inhibition blocked VE-cadherin phosphorylation at tyrosine residue 685 and the concomitant formation of button-like junctions in initial lymphatics. The defective junctions were associated with impaired lymph uptake. In collecting lymphatics, adherens junctions were disrupted, and the vessels leaked upon ANG2 blockade or gene deletion. ANG2 inhibition also suppressed the onset of lymphatic valve formation and subsequent valve maturation. These data identify ANG2 as the first essential regulator of the functionally important interendothelial cell-cell junctions that form during lymphatic development.
Lymphatic vessels collect extravasated fluid and proteins from tissues to blood circulation as well as play an essential role in lipid metabolism by taking up intestinal chylomicrons. Previous studies have shown that impairment of lymphatic vessel function causes lymphedema and fat accumulation, but clear connections between arterial pathologies and lymphatic vessels have not been described.
In glaucoma, aqueous outflow into the Schlemm's canal (SC) is obstructed. Despite striking structural and functional similarities with the lymphatic vascular system, it is unknown whether the SC is a blood or lymphatic vessel. Here, we demonstrated the expression of lymphatic endothelial cell markers by the SC in murine and zebrafish models as well as in human eye tissue. The initial stages of SC development involved induction of the transcription factor PROX1 and the lymphangiogenic receptor tyrosine kinase VEGFR-3 in venous endothelial cells in postnatal mice. Using gene deletion and function-blocking antibodies in mice, we determined that the lymphangiogenic growth factor VEGF-C and its receptor, VEGFR-3, are essential for SC development. Delivery of VEGF-C into the adult eye resulted in sprouting, proliferation, and growth of SC endothelial cells, whereas VEGF-A obliterated the aqueous outflow system. Furthermore, a single injection of recombinant VEGF-C induced SC growth and was associated with trend toward a sustained decrease in intraocular pressure in adult mice. These results reveal the evolutionary conservation of the lymphatic-like phenotype of the SC, implicate VEGF-C and VEGFR-3 as critical regulators of SC lymphangiogenesis, and provide a basis for further studies on therapeutic manipulation of the SC with VEGF-C in glaucoma treatment.
The skin interstitium sequesters excess Na+ and Cl- in salt-sensitive hypertension. Mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS) cells are recruited to the skin, sense the hypertonic electrolyte accumulation in skin, and activate the tonicity-responsive enhancer-binding protein (TONEBP, also known as NFAT5) to initiate expression and secretion of VEGFC, which enhances electrolyte clearance via cutaneous lymph vessels and increases eNOS expression in blood vessels. It is unclear whether this local MPS response to osmotic stress is important to systemic blood pressure control. Herein, we show that deletion of TonEBP in mouse MPS cells prevents the VEGFC response to a high-salt diet (HSD) and increases blood pressure. Additionally, an antibody that blocks the lymph-endothelial VEGFC receptor, VEGFR3, selectively inhibited MPS-driven increases in cutaneous lymphatic capillary density, led to skin Cl- accumulation, and induced salt-sensitive hypertension. Mice overexpressing soluble VEGFR3 in epidermal keratinocytes exhibited hypoplastic cutaneous lymph capillaries and increased Na+, Cl-, and water retention in skin and salt-sensitive hypertension. Further, we found that HSD elevated skin osmolality above plasma levels. These results suggest that the skin contains a hypertonic interstitial fluid compartment in which MPS cells exert homeostatic and blood pressure-regulatory control by local organization of interstitial electrolyte clearance via TONEBP and VEGFC/VEGFR3-mediated modification of cutaneous lymphatic capillary function.
Notch cell interaction mechanism governs cell fate decisions in many different cell contexts throughout the lifetime of all Metazoan species. It links the fate of one cell to that of its neighbors through cell-to-cell contacts, and binding of Notch receptors expressed on one cell to their membrane bound ligands on an adjacent cell. Environmental cues, such as growth factors and extracellular matrix molecules, superimpose a dynamic regulation on this canonical Notch signaling pathway. In this review, we will focus on Notch signaling in the vertebrate vascular and nervous systems and examine its role in angiogenesis, neurogenesis, and neurovascular interactions. We will also highlight the molecular relationships of the Notch pathway with vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) and their high-affinity tyrosine kinase VEGF receptors, key regulators of both angiogenesis and neurogenesis.
During mammalian development, a subpopulation of endothelial cells in the cardinal vein (CV) expresses lymphatic-specific genes and subsequently develops into the first lymphatic structures, collectively termed as lymph sacs. Budding, sprouting and ballooning of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) have been proposed to underlie the emergence of LECs from the CV, but the exact mechanisms of lymph vessel formation remain poorly understood. Applying selective plane illumination-based ultramicroscopy to entire wholemount-immunostained mouse embryos, we visualized the complete developing vascular system with cellular resolution. Here, we report emergence of the earliest detectable LECs as strings of loosely connected cells between the CV and superficial venous plexus. Subsequent aggregation of LECs resulted in formation of two distinct, previously unidentified lymphatic structures, the dorsal peripheral longitudinal lymphatic vessel (PLLV) and the ventral primordial thoracic duct (pTD), which at later stages formed a direct contact with the CV. Providing new insights into their function, we found vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C) and the matrix component CCBE1 indispensable for LEC budding and migration. Altogether, we present a significantly more detailed view and novel model of early lymphatic development.
Angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels, involves specification of endothelial cells to tip cells and stalk cells, which is controlled by Notch signalling, whereas vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)-2 and VEGFR-3 have been implicated in angiogenic sprouting. Surprisingly, we found that endothelial deletion of Vegfr3, but not VEGFR-3-blocking antibodies, postnatally led to excessive angiogenic sprouting and branching, and decreased the level of Notch signalling, indicating that VEGFR-3 possesses passive and active signalling modalities. Furthermore, macrophages expressing the VEGFR-3 and VEGFR-2 ligand VEGF-C localized to vessel branch points, and Vegfc heterozygous mice exhibited inefficient angiogenesis characterized by decreased vascular branching. FoxC2 is a known regulator of Notch ligand and target gene expression, and Foxc2(+/-);Vegfr3(+/-) compound heterozygosity recapitulated homozygous loss of Vegfr3. These results indicate that macrophage-derived VEGF-C activates VEGFR-3 in tip cells to reinforce Notch signalling, which contributes to the phenotypic conversion of endothelial cells at fusion points of vessel sprouts.
Earlier findings suggest that dopaminergic neurons are probably not critically involved in ethanol self-administration behavior and in the differential intake of ethanol by the alcohol-preferring AA (Alko Alcohol) and non-preferring ANA (Alko Non-Alcohol) rat lines selected for differential ethanol intake. The purpose of the present study was, therefore, to clarify the role of GABAergic and glutamatergic afferents and efferents with the mesolimbic dopamine system in the control of ethanol intake as well as in differential intake of ethanol by AA and ANA rats.
The selectively bred lines of alcohol-preferring alko alcohol (AA) and alcohol-avoiding alko nonalcohol (ANA) rats have been used to demonstrate differences in relevant neurotransmitters which could account for their difference in alcohol consumption. Studies have demonstrated differences in distinct components of the endogenous opioid system in various brain regions associated with the process of reinforcement between the AA and ANA lines of rats.
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