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Nat Med. 2005 Sep;11(9):998-1004. Epub 2005 Aug 14.

A genetic Xenopus laevis tadpole model to study lymphangiogenesis.

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Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology, Center for Transgene Technology and Gene Therapy, Campus Gasthuisberg O&N, Herestraat 49, KULeuven, Leuven, B-3000.


Lymph vessels control fluid homeostasis, immunity and metastasis. Unraveling the molecular basis of lymphangiogenesis has been hampered by the lack of a small animal model that can be genetically manipulated. Here, we show that Xenopus tadpoles develop lymph vessels from lymphangioblasts or, through transdifferentiation, from venous endothelial cells. Lymphangiography showed that these lymph vessels drain lymph, through the lymph heart, to the venous circulation. Morpholino-mediated knockdown of the lymphangiogenic factor Prox1 caused lymph vessel defects and lymphedema by impairing lymphatic commitment. Knockdown of vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C) also induced lymph vessel defects and lymphedema, but primarily by affecting migration of lymphatic endothelial cells. Knockdown of VEGF-C also resulted in aberrant blood vessel formation in tadpoles. This tadpole model offers opportunities for the discovery of new regulators of lymphangiogenesis.

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