Notch signal is sufficient to direct an endothelial conversion from non-endothelial somitic cells conveyed to the aortic region by CXCR4

Emi Ohata, Ryosuke Tadokoro, Yuki Sato, Daisuke Saito, Yoshiko Takahashi
Developmental Biology 2009 November 1, 335 (1): 33-42
During the early formation of the dorsal aorta, the first-forming embryonic vessel in amniotes, a subset of somitic cells selected as presumptive angioblasts, migrates toward the dorsal aorta, where they eventually differentiate into endothelial cells. We have recently shown that these processes are controlled by Notch signals (Sato, Y., Watanabe, T., Saito, D., Takahashi, T., Yoshida, S., Kohyama, J., Ohata, E., Okano, H., and Takahashi, Y., 2008. Notch mediates the segmental specification of angioblasts in somites and their directed migration toward the dorsal aorta in avian embryos. Dev. Cell 14, 890-901.). Here, we studied a possible link between Notch and chemokine signals, SDF1/CXCR4, the latter found to be dominantly expressed in developing aorta/somites. Although CXCR4 overexpression caused a directed migration of somitic cells to the aortic region in a manner similar to Notch, no positive epistatic relationships between Notch and SDF1/CXCR4 were detected. After reaching the aortic region, the CXCR4-electroporated cells exhibited no endothelial character. Importantly, however, once provided with Notch activity, they could successfully be incorporated into developing vessels as endothelial cells. These findings were obtained combining the tetracycline-inducible gene expression method with the transposon-mediated stable gene transfer technique. We conclude that Notch activation is sufficient to direct naïve mesenchymal cells to differentiate into endothelial cells once the cells are conveyed to the aortic region.

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