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Neurosci Lett. 2002 Aug 23;329(1):116-20.

Caenorhabditis elegans receptors related to mammalian vascular endothelial growth factor receptors are expressed in neural cells.

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Molecular Oncology, INSERM U119, 27 Boulevard Leï Roure, 13009 Marseille, France.


Through a genomic survey of the Caenorhabditis elegans genome for genes encoding tyrosine kinase receptors (RTK) we identified a family of four RTKs which are structurally related to vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFRs). We named this family the ver gene family (for Vascular Endothelial growth factor receptor Related). It was intriguing to find this type of RTK in an animal devoid of a vascular system. The common sites of expression of the ver genes are specialized cells of neural origin: ver-1 (T17A3.1) is expressed in the support (glial) cells of amphid and phasmid neurons, ver-2 (T17A3.8) in ADL, a pair of chemosensorial neurons, and ver-3 (F59F3.1) in the ALA neuron. In mammals, the VEGFRs are associated with angiogenesis and neurogenesis. We provide here the first observation that these molecules may be primarily and solely involved in neurogenesis in a living organism.

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