Venous-derived angioblasts generate organ-specific vessels during zebrafish embryonic development

Gideon Hen, Julian Nicenboim, Oded Mayseless, Lihee Asaf, Masahiro Shin, Giorgia Busolin, Roy Hofi, Gabriella Almog, Natascia Tiso, Nathan D. Lawson, Karina Yaniv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Formation and remodeling of vascular beds are complex processes orchestrated by multiple signaling pathways. Although it is well accepted that vessels of a particular organ display specific features that enable them to fulfill distinct functions, the embryonic origins of tissue-specific vessels and the molecular mechanisms regulating their formation are poorly understood. The subintestinal plexus of the zebrafish embryo comprises vessels that vascularize the gut, liver and pancreas and, as such, represents an ideal model in which to investigate the early steps of organ-specific vessel formation. Here, we show that both arterial and venous components of the subintestinal plexus originate from a pool of specialized angioblasts residing in the floor of the posterior cardinal vein (PCV). Using live imaging of zebrafish embryos, in combination with photoconvertable transgenic reporters, we demonstrate that these angioblasts undergo two phases of migration and differentiation. Initially, a subintestinal vein forms and expands ventrally through a Bone Morphogenetic Protein-dependent step of collective migration. Concomitantly, a Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-dependent shift in the directionality of migration, coupled to the upregulation of arterial markers, is observed, which culminates with the generation of the supraintestinal artery. Together, our results establish the zebrafish subintestinal plexus as an advantageous model for the study of organ-specific vessel development and provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms controlling its formation. More broadly, our findings suggest that PCV-specialized angioblasts contribute not only to the formation of the early trunk vasculature, but also to the establishment of late-forming, tissue-specific vascular beds
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4266-4278
Number of pages13
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2015


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