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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2003 Nov;285(5):H1917-38. Epub 2003 Jul 3.

Expression of genes involved in vascular development and angiogenesis in endothelial cells of adult lung.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy S1363, University of California-San Francisco, 513 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143-0452, USA.


Profiling gene expression in endothelial cells advances the understanding of normal vascular physiology and disease processes involving angiogenesis. However, endothelial cell purification has been challenging because of the difficulty of isolating cells and their low abundance. Here we examine gene expression in endothelial cells freshly isolated from lung capillaries after in vivo labeling with fluorescent cationic liposomes and purification by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Of the 39,000 genes and expressed sequence tags evaluated on custom oligonucleotide arrays, 555 were enriched in endothelial cell fraction. These included familiar endothelial cell-associated genes such as VEGF, VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-1, VEGFR-2, angiopoietin-2, Tie1, Tie2, Edg1 receptor, VE-cadherin, claudin 5, connexin37, CD31, and CD34. Also enriched were genes in semaphorin/neuropilin (Sema3c and Nrp1), ephrin/Eph (ephrin A1, B1, B2, and EphB4), delta/notch (Hey1, Jagged 2, Notch 1, Notch 4, Numb, and Siah1b), and Wingless (Frizzled-4 and Tle1) signaling pathways involved in vascular development and angiogenesis. Expression of representative genes in alveolar capillary endothelial cells was verified by immunohistochemistry. Such expression reflects features that endothelial cells of normal lung capillaries have in common with embryonic and growing blood vessels. About half of the enriched genes, including exostosin 2, lipocalin 7, phospholipid scramblase 2, pleckstrin 2, protocadherin 1, Ryk, scube 1, serpinh1, SNF-related kinase, and several tetraspanins, had little or no previous association with endothelial cells. This approach can readily be used to profile genes expressed in blood vessels in tumors, chronic inflammation, and other sites in which endothelial cells avidly take up cationic liposomes.

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