In developing limb skin, peripheral nerves provide a spatial template that controls the branching pattern and differentiation of arteries. Our previous studies indicate that nerve-derived VEGF-A is required for arterial differentiation but not for nerve-vessel alignment. In this study, we demonstrate that nerve-vessel alignment depends on the activity of Cxcl12-Cxcr4 chemokine signaling. Genetic inactivation of Cxcl12-Cxcr4 signaling perturbs nerve-vessel alignment and abolishes arteriogenesis. Further in vitro assays allow us to uncouple nerve-vessel alignment and arteriogenesis, revealing that nerve-derived Cxcl12 stimulates endothelial cell migration, whereas nerve-derived VEGF-A is responsible for arterial differentiation. These findings suggest a coordinated sequential action in which nerve Cxcl12 functions over a distance to recruit vessels to align with nerves, and subsequent arterial differentiation presumably requires a local action of nerve VEGF-A in the nerve-associated vessels.
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) are irregularly shaped and enlarged capillaries in the brain that are prone to hemorrhage, resulting in headaches, seizures, strokes and even death in patients. The disease affects up to 0.5% of the population and the inherited form has been linked to mutations in one of three genetic loci, CCM1, CCM2 and CCM3. To understand the pathophysiology underlying the vascular lesions in CCM, it is critical to develop a reproducible mouse genetic model of this disease. Here, we report that limited conditional ablation of Ccm2 in young adult mice induces observable neurological dysfunction and reproducibly results in brain hemorrhages whose appearance is highly reminiscent of the lesions observed in human CCM patients. We first demonstrate that conventional or endothelial-specific deletion of Ccm2 leads to fatal cardiovascular defects during embryogenesis, including insufficient vascular lumen formation as well as defective arteriogenesis and heart malformation. These findings confirm and extend prior studies. We then demonstrate that the inducible deletion of Ccm2 in adult mice recapitulates the CCM-like brain lesions in humans; the lesions display disrupted vascular lumens, enlarged capillary cavities, loss of proper neuro-vascular associations and an inflammatory reaction. The CCM lesions also exhibit damaged neuronal architecture, the likely cause of neurologic defects, such as ataxia and seizure. These mice represent the first CCM2 animal model for CCM and should provide the means to elucidate disease mechanisms and evaluate therapeutic strategies for human CCM.
Genome-wide analysis of sequence divergence among species offers profound insights into the evolutionary processes that shape lineages. When full-genome sequencing is not feasible for a broad comparative study, we propose the use of array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) in order to identify orthologous genes with high sequence divergence. Here we discuss experimental design, statistical power, success rate, sources of variation and potential confounding factors. We used a spotted PCR product microarray platform from Drosophila melanogaster to assess sequence divergence on a gene-by-gene basis in three fully sequenced heterologous species (D. sechellia, D. simulans, and D. yakuba). Because complete genome assemblies are available for these species this study presents a powerful test for the use of aCGH as a tool to measure sequence divergence.
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