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Mech Dev. 2001 Nov;109(1):69-77.

The Drosophila VEGF receptor homolog is expressed in hemocytes.

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Institute of Biotechnology, Viikki Biocenter, PB 56 (Viikinkaari 9), FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Several signalling pathways have been defined by studies of genes originally characterised in Drosophila. However, some mammalian signalling systems have so far escaped discovery in the fly. Here, we describe the identification and characterisation of fly homologs for the mammalian vascular endothelial growth factor/platelet derived growth factor (VEGF/PDGF) and the VEGF receptor. The Drosophila factor (DmVEGF-1) gene has two splice variants and is expressed during all stages, the signal distribution during embryogenesis being ubiquitous. The receptor (DmVEGFR) gene has several splice variants; the variations affecting only the extracellular domain. The most prominent form is expressed in cells of the embryonic haematopoietic cell lineage, starting in the mesodermal area of the head around stage 10 of embryogenesis. Expression persists in hemocytes as embryonic development proceeds and the cells migrate posteriorly. In a fly strain carrying a deletion uncovering the DmVEGFR gene, hemocytes are still present, but their migration is hampered and the hemocytes remain mainly in the anterior end close to their origin. These data suggest that the VEGF/PDGF signalling system may regulate the migration of the Drosophila embryonic haemocyte precursor cells.

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