Lee, Y.M., Cope, J.J., Ackermann, G.E., Goishi, K., Armstrong, E.J., Paw, B.H., and Bischoff, J. (2006) Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor signaling is required for cardiac valve formation in zebrafish. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 235(1):29-37.
Vascular endothelial growth factor-receptors (VEGF-Rs) are pivotal regulators of vascular development, but a specific role for these receptors in the formation of heart valves has not been identified. We took advantage of small molecule inhibitors of VEGF-R signaling and showed that blocking VEGF-R signaling with receptor selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors, PTK 787 and AAC 787, from 17-21 hr post-fertilization (hpf) in zebrafish embryos resulted in a functional and structural defect in cardiac valve development. Regurgitation of blood between the two chambers of the heart, as well as a loss of cell-restricted expression of the valve differentiation markers notch 1b and bone morphogenetic protein-4 (bmp-4), was readily apparent in treated embryos. In addition, microangiography revealed a loss of a definitive atrioventricular constriction in treated embryos. Taken together, these data demonstrate a novel function for VEGF-Rs in the endocardial endothelium of the developing cardiac valve.