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Dev Biol. 1988 Feb;125(2):441-50.

Changes in the vascular extracellular matrix during embryonic vasculogenesis and angiogenesis.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie, Tübingen, Federal Republic of Germany.


We have previously characterized monoclonal antibodies against chick brain cells. One of them (14-2B2) brightly stained all capillaries in frozen sections of chick brain. Here we show that this antibody is directed against chick fibronectin. Using this antibody and polyclonal antibodies against laminin, we have studied the development of the vascular extracellular matrix. Vasculogenesis, the development of capillaries from in situ differentiating endothelial cells, was studied in yolk sac blood islands and intraembryonic dorsal aorta. Blood islands produced high levels of fibronectin but not laminin. Early intraembryonic capillaries all expressed fibronectin but little if any laminin. The dorsal aorta of a 6-day-old chick embryo has several layers of fibronectin-producing cells, but is devoid of laminin. Laminin expression commenced at Day 8 and by Day 10 an adult-like distribution was found in the aortic vascular wall. Angiogenesis, the formation of capillaries from preexisting vessels, was studied during brain development. Capillary sprouts invading the neuroectoderm at Embryonic Day 4 migrated in a fibronectin-rich matrix devoid of laminin. Ultrastructural immunolocalization demonstrated the presence of fibronectin exclusively on the abluminal site of the endothelial cells. Beginning on Day 6, laminin codistributed with fibronectin in brain capillaries. We conclude that immature capillaries migrate and proliferate in a fibronectin-rich extracellular matrix, which is subsequently remodeled acquiring basement membrane-like characteristics. We suggest that laminin expression is an early indication of vascular maturation.

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