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Dev Dyn. 2004 Sep;231(1):204-13.

Expression of VE-cadherin in zebrafish embryos: a new tool to evaluate vascular development.

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Discovery Genomics, Incorporated, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.


We have identified the zebrafish homologue of VE-cadherin and documented its expression in the developing vascular system. The zebrafish VE-cadherin gene is specifically expressed in the vascular endothelial cell lineage beginning with the differentiation and migration of angioblasts and persists throughout vasculogenesis, angiogenesis, and endocardium development. Staining zebrafish embryos by whole-mount in situ hybridization with the VE-cadherin probe provides a method to screen embryos for vascular defects. To illustrate this utility, we used VE-cadherin expression to demonstrate a conservation of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) function. The morpholino antisense oligonucleotide knockdown of VEGF-A function in zebrafish embryos results in a loss of angiogenic blood vessels, as indicated by the lack of VE-cadherin expression in the intersegmental vasculature. This loss can be restored in embryos supplemented with either zebrafish or human VEGF-A, the latter indicating that genes crucial to angiogenesis have highly conserved functional activities in vertebrates.

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