The endothelial cells of the vertebrate lymphatic system assemble into complex networks, but local cues that guide the migration of this distinct set of cells are currently unknown. As a model for lymphatic patterning, we have studied the simple vascular network of the zebrafish trunk consisting of three types of lymphatic vessels that develop in close connection with the blood vasculature. We have generated transgenic lines that allow us to distinguish between arterial, venous and lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) within a single zebrafish embryo. We found that LECs migrate exclusively along arteries in a manner that suggests that arterial endothelial cells serve as the LEC migratory substrate. In the absence of intersegmental arteries, LEC migration in the trunk is blocked. Our data therefore demonstrate a crucial role for arteries in LEC guidance.

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Development (Cambridge)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Bussmann, J, Bos, F.L, Urasaki, A, Kawakami, K, Duckers, H.J, & Schulte-Merker, S. (2010). Arteries provide essential guidance cues for lymphatic endothelial cells in the zebrafish trunk. Development (Cambridge), 137(16), 2653–2657. doi:10.1242/dev.048207