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Exp Cell Res. 2006 Mar 10;312(5):668-75. Epub 2005 Dec 5.

Neuronal clues to vascular guidance.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U36, Collège de France, 11 Place Marcelin Berthelot, 75005 Paris, France.


The development of the vertebrate vascular system into a highly ordered and stereotyped network requires precise control over the branching and growth of new vessels. Recent research has highlighted the important role of genetic programs in regulating vascular patterning and in particular has established a crucial role for families of molecules previously described in controlling neuronal guidance. Like neurons, new vessels are guided along the correct path by integrating attractive and repulsive cues from the external environment. This is achieved by specialised endothelial cells at the leading tip of vessel sprouts which express receptor proteins that couple extracellular guidance signals with the cytoskeletal changes necessary to alter cell direction. Here, we review the genetic and in vitro evidence implicating four families of ligand-receptor signalling systems common to both neuronal and vessel guidance: the Ephrins and Eph receptors; Semaphorins, Neuropilins and Plexin receptors; Netrin and Unc5 receptors; and Slits and Robo receptors.

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