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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2005 Feb;15(1):108-15.

Guidance of vascular and neural network formation.

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INSERM U 36, Coll├Ęge de France, 11 Place Marcelin Berthelot, 75005 Paris, France.


Blood vessels and nerves are structurally similar complex branched systems. Their guidance must be exquisitely regulated to ensure proper wiring of both networks. Recent results showed that specialized endothelial cells, resembling axonal growth cones, form the tips of growing capillaries. These endothelial tip cells guide outgrowing capillaries in response to gradients of extracellular matrix-bound vascular endothelial growth factor. Several axon guidance molecules, including Semaphorins, Netrins, Ephrins and Slits, have also been implicated in vessel pathfinding and network formation. In particular, Semaphorin3E and its receptor plexinD1 in addition to the Netrin receptor UNC5B have recently been shown to direct endothelial tip cell navigation.

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