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Dev Biol. 2008 Mar 15;315(2):437-47. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.12.045. Epub 2008 Jan 11.

Sclerotomal origin of vascular smooth muscle cells and pericytes in the embryo.

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  • 1Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, Bat C, 6ème étage, Case 24, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France.


We previously demonstrated that progenitors of both endothelium and smooth muscle cells in the aortic wall originated from the somite in the trunk of the embryo. However whether the contribution to vascular Smooth Muscle Cells (vSMC) is restricted to the aorta or encompasses other vessels of the trunk is not known. Moreover, the somitic compartment that gives rise to vSMC is yet to be defined. Quail-chick orthotopic transplantations of either the segmental plate or the dorsal or ventral halves from single somites demonstrate that 1 degrees vSMC of the body wall including those of the limbs originate from the somite. 2 degrees Like vSMC, aortic pericytes originate from the somite. 3 degrees The sclerotome is the somite compartment that gives rise to vSMC and pericytes. PAX1 and FOXC2, two molecular markers of the sclerotomal compartment, are expressed by vSMC and pericytes during the earliest phases of vascular wall formation. Later on, PDGFR-beta and MYOCARDIN are also expressed by these cells. In contrast, the dermomyotome gives rise to endothelium but never to cells in the vascular wall. Taken together, out data point out to the critical role of the somite in vessel formation and demonstrate that vSMC and endothelial cells originate from two independent somitic compartments.

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