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Bioessays. 2000 Oct;22(10):882-93.

Building the vertebrate vasculature: research is going swimmingly.

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Unit on Vertebrate Organogenesis, Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The vertebrate vasculature develops in remarkably similar fashion in all vertebrates. A cohort of unspecified mesodermal cells differentiates into primitive endothelial cells, which migrate to and occupy positions within the stereotypical blueprint of the primitive vasculature. Once in position, these cells coalesce and form cords, which lumenize and become ensheathed by supporting pericytes and smooth muscle cells. This primitive vascular network is extensively remodeled in some places, and expanded by sprouting in others. Various studies using the mouse, quail/chick, and frog have uncovered a number of signals that guide these complex processes but many gaps still exist in our understanding of the mechanisms by which the embryonic vasculature is built. Because many questions will require in vivo studies to be properly addressed, the zebrafish, with its unique accessibility to analysis by combined embryological, molecular, and genetic methods, should prove invaluable in identifying new molecules involved in blood vessel development and integrating pathways that influence embryonic blood vessel formation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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