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Angiogenesis. 2018 May;21(2):363-380. doi: 10.1007/s10456-018-9602-0. Epub 2018 Feb 19.

Vascular deficiency of Smad4 causes arteriovenous malformations: a mouse model of Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia.

Author information

1
Cell and Molecular Biology Department, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, 70118, USA.
2
Cell and Molecular Biology Department, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, 70118, USA. smeadows@tulane.edu.

Abstract

Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) is an autosomal dominant vascular disorder that leads to abnormal connections between arteries and veins termed arteriovenous malformations (AVM). Mutations in TGFβ pathway members ALK1, ENG and SMAD4 lead to HHT. However, a Smad4 mouse model of HHT does not currently exist. We aimed to create and characterize a Smad4 endothelial cell (EC)-specific, inducible knockout mouse (Smad4f/f;Cdh5-CreERT2) that could be used to study AVM development in HHT. We found that postnatal ablation of Smad4 caused various vascular defects, including the formation of distinct AVMs in the neonate retina. Our analyses demonstrated that increased EC proliferation and size, altered mural cell coverage and distorted artery-vein gene expression are associated with Smad4 deficiency in the vasculature. Furthermore, we show that depletion of Smad4 leads to decreased Vegfr2 expression, and concurrent loss of endothelial Smad4 and Vegfr2 in vivo leads to AVM enlargement. Our work provides a new model in which to study HHT-associated phenotypes and links the TGFβ and VEGF signaling pathways in AVM pathogenesis.

KEYWORDS:

Arteriovenous malformations (AVM); Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia  (HHT); Smad4; TGFβ; Vegfr2

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