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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2002 Jun 1;22(6):927-33.

Central roles of alpha5beta1 integrin and fibronectin in vascular development in mouse embryos and embryoid bodies.

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Cardiovascular Research Group, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.


Vascular development and maturation are dependent on the interactions of endothelial cell integrins with surrounding extracellular matrix. Previous investigations of the primacy of certain integrins in vascular development have not addressed whether this could also be a secondary effect due to poor embryonic nutrition. Here, we show that the alpha5 integrin subunit and fibronectin have critical roles in blood vessel development in mouse embryos and in embryoid bodies (EBs) differentiated from embryonic stem cells (a situation in which there is no nutritional deficit caused by the mutations). In contrast, vascular development in vivo and in vitro is not strongly dependent on alpha(v) or beta3 integrin subunits. In mouse embryos lacking alpha5 integrin, greatly distended blood vessels are seen in the vitelline yolk sac and in the embryo itself. Additionally, overall blood vessel pattern complexity is reduced in alpha5-null tissues. This defective vascular phenotype is correlated with a decrease in the ligand for alpha5 integrin, fibronectin (FN), in the endothelial basement membranes. A striking and significant reduction in early capillary plexus formation and maturation was apparent in EBs formed from embryonic stem cells lacking alpha5 integrin or FN compared with wild-type EBs or EBs lacking alpha(v) or beta3 integrin subunits. Vessel phenotype could be partially restored to FN-null EBs by the addition of whole FN to the culture system. These findings confirm a clear role for alpha5 and FN in early blood vessel development not dependent on embryo nutrition or alpha(v) or beta3 integrin subunits. Thus, successful early vasculogenesis and angiogenesis require alpha5-FN interactions.

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