An anteroposterior wave of vascular inhibitor downregulation signals aortae fusion along the embryonic midline axis
Robert J. Garriock, Catherine Czeisler, Yasuo Ishii, Alicia M. Navetta and Takashi Mikawa
Development 137, 3697-3706, doi: 10.1242/dev.051664
part of fig 1 of the paper
Paracrine signals, both positive and negative, regulate the positioning and remodeling of embryonic blood vessels. In the embryos of mammals and birds, the first major remodeling event is the fusion of bilateral dorsal aortae at the midline to form the dorsal aorta. Although the original bilaterality of the dorsal aortae occurs as the result of inhibitory factors (antagonists of BMP signaling) secreted from the midline by the notochord, it is unknown how fusion is later signaled. Here, we report that dorsal aortae fusion is tightly regulated by a change in signaling by the notochord along the anteroposterior axis. During aortae fusion, the notochord ceases to exert its negative influence on vessel formation. This is achieved by a transcriptional downregulation of negative regulators while positive regulators are maintained at pre-fusion levels. In particular, Chordin, the most abundant BMP antagonist expressed in the notochord prior to fusion, undergoes a dramatic downregulation in an anterior to posterior wave. With inhibitory signals diminished and sustained expression of the positive factors SHH and VEGF at the midline, fusion of the dorsal aortae is signaled. These results demonstrate a novel mechanism by which major modifications of the vascular pattern can occur through modulation of vascular inhibitors without changes in the levels of positive vascular regulators.